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March 29, 1917

Ground was broken for two L-shaped wings on the north and south sides of Thompson Memorial Library. The gift of Mrs. Mary Clark Thompson, donor of the original building, the additions were designed by Allen & Collens, the library’s original architects, who retained the English Perpendicular Gothic style. Uneasiness on the campus about the new additions’ effect on the Library’s character and its beauty proved unnecessary. As Librarian—and later professor of English—Amy Reed ’92 observed the following October when the two wings had been erected. Those, she wrote in The Vassar Miscellany, who feared that the additions “might prove merely unsightly excrescences on a beautiful building must have been pleasantly disappointed at their first sight this fall of the exterior now almost completed. To many of us the change seems to supply a lack which we have always felt, though perhaps vaguely, the lack of that variety or irregularity which is one characteristic note of Gothic art.” She particularly praised the new courtyard formed by the two wings. “Here,” she observed, “in pleasant weather students may sit and read, surrounded somewhat as they are at Oxford or Cambridge by lovely Gothic detail.”

The Years