Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose by Joseph Sheppard
ne of the best things about being part of a community like Lawrence Academy is the assurance that some things will never change: The neo-Georgian buildings, the views of Gibbet Hill to the east and Wachusett Mountain to the west, “where the last faint sunbeams glow” — these will, it seems, always be there. So, too, will the friendliness shown to strangers and newcomers to campus, and the honest courtesy and kindness with which students and faculty alike treat each other on a daily basis (most of the time — we all have our moments!). Yet LA, like every other place in the world, lives and evolves even as the constants remain. People come and go; societal rules change; buildings are put up and torn down; and the campus itself is reshaped. We offer you here a modest chronicle, in words and pictures, of the evolution of the Lawrence campus over the last 60 or so years, ending with a glimpse into the future.
• • • The LA campus we know today really began to take shape in 1948, with the construction of the Fred C. Gray Building. The new facility gave the gymnasium, formerly housed in the old school building, its own space, and the locker rooms were moved from the “caves” of Bigelow Hall. The new kitchen and dining hall permitted Dana House, where meals had been served for years, eventually to be converted into an infirmary, today’s Frigoletto Health Center. And the spacious new MacNeil Lounge provided students and faculty with a real common room for the first time. The late 1950s and early 1960s saw a flurry of new construction: The old Schoolhouse burned down on graduation day in 1956, and its replacement moved the focus of campus life up the hill onto the present-day Quadrangle. Spaulding Hall appeared in 1960, followed by Sheedy two years later; these dorms replaced two Victorian edifices on Powderhouse Road that had long served as dormitories. The only wooden structure remaining on the “new” Quad was Pillsbury House, located on the north
edge next to Lawrence House — and it was sawed in half and moved in the summer of 1966 to make room for the Ferguson Building, which gave the Quad the appearance familiar to all of us. Until Pillsbury was moved to its present location, the LA campus ended at the Dr. Green dormitory, originally known as Ebert House; beyond that lay hayfields and a good-sized communal faculty garden. Gene and Connie Gray lived in what is now the Alumni Development House, and the Sheedy House faculty residence and garage were occupied by that family through the 1960s. The decade of 1970-1980 saw the construction of Grant Rink in 1973, spurred in large measure by the collapse in a snowstorm of the metal roof over the old, natural-ice hockey rink by the lower fields. Athletic Director Norman Grant, who had designed the roof, used to say that LA had the best natural ice in the league; by the time the roof fell down, the joke among the faculty was that it was the best because it was the only natural ice left. An odd addition to the campus in 1980 was the Madigan Student Center, named for longtime LA business manager Joe Madigan and located across the driveway from Grant Rink. A true product of the ’70s, it was appropriately iconoclastic for the times: Architecturally, it harmonized with absolutely nothing around it; in a school where a
Headmaster Arthur Ferguson dedicating the new Sheedy Hall, 1962.
1948: Construction of the Fred C. Gray Building • 1956: The old Schoolhouse burns down 4 LAWRENCE ACADEMY FALL 2018
Lawrence Academy's annual alumni magazine.