Campus History & Description

The Bradford College Campus Academic buildings center around a "U" shaped quadrangle of four-story buildings in a variety of late nineteenth century styles including Second Empire, Colonial Revival and Classical Revival. Bradford Academy, a co-ed secondary school, was founded in 1803 at Kimball Tavern (1690), also part of the local Bradford Common Historic District. Male enrollment declined, and in 1836, Bradford Academy became a women's institution and began offering college level courses. During the later part of the nineteenth century, Headmistress Abigail Hasseltine (first female missionary from the US abroad) created a rigorous curriculum for Bradford students that included Latin, metaphysics and surveying. In 1931, Bradford became Bradford Junior College, and finally in 1971 became coed. In 1972 Bradford became a four year co-ed college.

Earlier Bradford Academy structures were located near the present site, but the earlier buildings were destroyed by fire. Other neighborhood houses were used at various times as student residences or college offices. The buildings at the front campus include: Academy Hall (1868-1870), Denworth Hall (1938-1940) Hasseltine Hall (1938-39), Bicknell Chapel (1958) and The Dorothy Bell Study Center (1960's), which includes the Hemingway Library, Laura Knott Art Gallery and classrooms, and several dorm buildings. A bridge spanning Tupelo Pond connects the front campus to additional student housing. The President's House, built in the 1950's, was demolished in spring 2005.

The buildings at the front campus retain their original features. Side wings were added to Academy Hall in 1892 and 1915. A front portico was also added in 1915. Exterior woodwork, windows and other features are showing signs of disrepair.

Historical Significance:

Four buildings at the Bradford College Campus are included in the Bradford Common Local Historic District (1975) and the Bradford Common National Historic District (1977): Academy Hall (1868-1870), Denworth Hall (1938-1940) Hasseltine Hall (1938-39), Bicknell Chapel (1958). These buildings are an essential part of the district that centers around a neighborhood that is densely settled and primarily residential. The neighborhood is located south of Haverhill's city center across the Merrimack River; Bradford was incorporated in 1675 and annexed to Haverhill in 1897.

The historic landscape of Bradford is evident through the growth beyond the original village center, which is dominated by Bradford Common, Bradford College and the historic White Church, or First Church of Christ Congregationalist. In 1810, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was formed at the White Church. In turn, the first women to join a foreign mission effort were educated at Bradford Academy, 1/2 mile from the church. Ann Hasseltine Judson and Harriet Atwood Newell left Haverhill in 1812 for Burma with their minister husbands. Hasseltine Hall is named for Ann's sister Abigail, head of Bradford Academy from 1815-1868.

The architecture of the area includes the Colonial Kimball Tavern, Georgian farmhouses, and shoe manufacturer's mansions that include styles as varied as Federal, Greek Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Italianate. Smaller commercial buildings also dotted the landscape.

The Bradford College Campus is the most significant grouping of buildings in the greater Bradford Common Area and dominates the one block along South Main Street from South Park Street to Kingsbury Avenue. Bradford Academy/Bradford Junior College and Bradford College functioned as the center for the neighborhood, with local schools and families enjoying student performances at Denworth Hall, attending art shows at the Knott Gallery or skating on the frozen Tupelo Pond.

Bradford College graduated its last class in May 2000. The college closed shortly after, and the campus was listed for sale. GFI, Partners, Inc. bought the campus in 2002 for $10M and received a special permit from the Haverhill City Council to develop the "back 40," the former athletic fields, into townhouses.

The Historical Relevance of Kimball Tavern:

Two hundred years after Christopher Columbus discovered America, Richard Kimball carried his new bride, Mercy Hasseltine Kimball, over the threshold of the newly built Kimball Tavern, located on the corner of Boston Post Road (now South Main Street) and Salem Road (now Salem Street). This tavern was the birthplace of the college.

On March 7, 1803, thirty men gathered in the "tap room" of the Tavern to found the Bradford Seminary for Females, which later became Bradford Academy, Bradford Junior College and finally Bradford College. In 1967 the Bradford Junior College was able to obtain donations to purchase this very historical tavern, which is one of Haverhill's oldest buildings in Haverhill. Besides being the birthplace of the Bradford College the tavern has also been inhabited by a number of distinguished Bradfordites. One dweller, Dr. George Cogswell, after which the Cogswell Primary School was named, was a community leader and Trustee of Bradford Academy.

By 1972, the Bradford campus was coed and the Tavern was only used occasionally. In April 1974, the Friends of the Kimball Tavern was formed with the purpose of promoting the upkeep and utilization of the building and to encourage continued movement toward its preservation. At that time the college did significant and necessary improvements to the tavern, including installation of new heating and plumbing, stronger flooring and a three-story addition at the rear of the house. Bradford College's restoration of the Tavern was completed under the direction of William Graves Perry of Colonial Williamsburg and Portsmouth's Strawberry Banke. At the culmination of the renovations, the Kimball Tavern was dedicated to Dorothy M. Bell, "in affectionate recognition of her devoted service as President of Bradford Junior College from 1940 to 1967", on October 23, 1970. Alum donors for this reconstruction project were: Julie Baker Cooper '58, Katherine Hammond Engler '31, Lucy Lindsley Fairchild '05, Hortense Finkelstein Feldblum '31, Rosemary H. Jackson '67, Ruth Burtner Jacoby '21, Harriet Ross LeBoeuf '15, Mr. and Mrs. Henry McNeil, Jane Ridgway Plumer '23, Dorothy Martin Sanders '16, Renza Emerson Shepard '20, Catherine Filene Shouse '13, Esther B. Stanley '16, Ann Hemingway Watson '38, Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Huettig, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Otis.

During America's bicentennial era of the mid 1970s, a major effort was made by the Friends to promote its community use. Dozens of organizations used the Tavern during this period, including local schoolchildren, College faculty and students hosting a coffee house. In 1978, the Bradford Common Historic District, chaired by Ann Armstrong Powell, a College official, provided Kimball Tavern its place in the National Register of Historic Places. This milestone was announced to the College community during its 175th anniversary.

Last Known Use of the Bradford Campus Buildings:

Building 1: Hasseltine Hall
(Historically registered)
Built 1938 it contains 28,058 SF in three stories. According to the M&G advertisement this building was used as a computer center/ media lab. Although there was a computer center located in the basement, this building was used primarily for classrooms and the science department. The building has three science labs and one greenhouse. The remainder of the building was used for classrooms. This is also the only building with a code elevator. This building is connected underground by a pedestrian walkway to academy hall.

Building 2: Denworth Hall
(Historically registered)
Built 1940 it contains 27,681 SF in three stories. According to the ad this is a 700-seat auditorium. Additional information about the building: The seating is stadium style seating, but the acoustics are horrible. The stage lacks a real backstage area making it difficult for changing scenes. The 1st floor/basement contains a "black box" theater, more of an intimate stage setting. The third floor of this building contains a recently remodeled dance studio complete with a spring loaded floor. The remainder of the third floor is assumed to be part of the dance department, perhaps classrooms or more studio space. Although the exact nature of the acoustical problems are not know, one architect said most problems can be fixed. This building is also connected underground by a pedestrian tunnel to Academy Hall.

Building 3: Academy Hall
(Historically registered)
Built 1893 it contains 119,768 SF in four stories, with the far left-outer el having only three stories. According to the ad, this building was of mixed use. This building has been used for many purposes over the years. The first floor of the front portion of the building and the two outer-ELs were used as administrative offices. On the first floor of the center back-EL, there is a cafeteria. The remainder of the space in the building(s) has been converted to suite style dormitory housing. Three sleeping rooms connected to a center living room. Many of the walls are simple partitions. The third and fourth floors of the center back-EL was originally the library. The library was an open between the two floors. Later the floor was closed and used as classrooms. Now it is also configured for dormitory housing. This building is connected by underground pedestrian walkways to Denworth and Hasseltine Halls. This building contains heavy mold.

Building 4: Bicknell Chapel
(Historically registered)
Built 1957 it contains 1,951 SF. This building contains the chapel, 3 small classrooms, and 1 mini-conference room.

Building 5: Campus Center
Built 1904 it contains 15,407 SF in three stories. According to the ad, this was a bookstore/ mixed-use building. The first floor was used as a student center/ bookstore. The second floor contains the gymnasium which also has a performance stage. The basement contains a swimming pool (presumably 20 yds), which was drained and covered over, but not filled in. This building also contains the physical plant. Although it is not known if steam is utilized in all the campus buildings or in just the front three.

Building 6: Bell/ Conover Hall
Built 1966 it contains 65,188 SF. The Dorothy Bell building contained the library in half of the building on both floors. The remaining half of the building was the Art Department. The first floor contained classrooms and the second floor contained art studio space. The Conover Hall auditorium underwent a complete remodel just before the school closed. The acoustics are excellent and it also has a reasonable stage area. The number of seats in this auditorium are unknown.

Building 7: The Tupelos
Built 1964 it contains 57,692 SF. Two separate dormitory buildings containing 248 beds. Recently remodeled before the school closed.

Building 8: Coat's House
Built 1926 it contains 4,148 SF. Last used as an infirmary. Originally, the building was the original president's house. Later this building was subdivided into small rooms for the infirmary.