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Mrs. Perkins' Union College 1895-1904: Walking Tour Vantage Points: Vantage Point 2

This guide includes information organized for an historic tour of Union College that may be accessed via a mobile device and QR codes. See the Mrs. Perkins’ Union College site on the library’s home page for more information about this project.

Vantage Point 2: Hale House

Hale House is the second of ten vantage points on a self-guided tour of Mrs. Perkins’ Union College, 1895-1904.  Mrs. Perkins, the wife of Professor of Chemistry Maurice Perkins, lived on campus for nearly sixty years and wrote vivid letters to her son Roger about her life at Union at the turn of the 20th century. These letters were recently donated to the College by a Perkins descendent.  An interactive map of the entire campus in Mrs. Perkins’ day is posted on the Schaffer Library website at www.schafferlibrarycollections.org/s/mrs-perkins/page/interactive-map.  The library’s website also includes excerpts from Mrs. Perkins’ letters and additional pictorial, historical, and biographical material as well as further information about this Schaffer Library Digital Project. 

 

South Colonnade, built in 1815, is one of the oldest buildings on campus and was erected in keeping with the campus plan developed by Union President Eliphalet Nott and French architect Joseph Jacques Ramée in 1813.  The plan included provisions for faculty living space, and Eliphalet Nott, among others, briefly lived in the two-story South Colonnade apartment before Maurice and Anne Perkins took up residence there in 1865.  They occupied this house for the rest of their lives.  At the time it was common not only for faculty but for their families to live on the Union campus, and it was also here that the Perkins reared their three children, Rose, Roger, and Alice.

 

After Maurice Perkins died in 1901, Mrs. Perkins continued to live in South Colonnade with her daughter Rose, Rose’s husband (Union College English Professor Edward Everett Hale, Jr.), and their young family.  Mrs. Perkins died here in 1922.  While the building was eventually named in honor of her son-in-law, Mrs. Perkins was its longest resident, having called it her home for 57 years.  Most of the family’s possessions were lost in a fire in 1910, but a portrait that belonged to Mrs. Perkins still hangs just inside the door as a memento of her time here.  A more significant memento of Mrs. Perkins is a surviving portion of the large garden that she maintained behind this house, also for over 50 years.  Still called “Mrs. Perkins’ Garden,” it was labor of love for her and one of the showpieces of the campus.  It can be visited later in the tour at Vantage Point 10.

 

Because Mrs. Perkins grew up in an era when very few women attended college, she was largely self-educated. She was fluent in French and became particularly knowledgeable about art and literature.  She gave lectures on the poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning for members of the community and also held religion classes on Sundays for Presbyterian students at Union.  When the family needed money (which was often), she completed French translations using the typewriter that she taught herself to use in 1895.  Nicknamed “The Demon,” she also used the typewriter to compose her long letters to her children after they left home.

 

Map link: Hale-Perkins

 

Walk east towards Vantage Point 3, the Nott Memorial.