The following is an excerpt from "A History of College Park", featured in the March/April 2018 issue of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, by Marlene Heck.
Tucked away in College Park and locked up against entry, Bartlett Tower rarely rates a mention on campus tours. Most students and alumni would be surprised to hear that when it was constructed, Bartlett Tower was intended to be one of the College’s main attractions. One enthusiast predicted the following.
When completed the tower will present a commanding appearance and no other object about the town will remain for a longer time in the memory of visitors. From its top will be derived a grand view of Old Dartmouth and the green hills that encircle it. The grey haired Alumnus will come back and from its top will gaze fondly down at each familiar place, and in fancy will live once more the gay old college days and will imagine himself once again the studious Freshman or gory Sophomore.
President Samuel Bartlett first proposed the project at chapel services in the fall 1884, suggesting that College Park could be further improved by the construction of a stone tower placed on the site’s highest ground and put up in a “medieval” style. While students endorsed the newest addition to the developing park, lack of funds meant that most of the cost and all of the labor would fall to them. An article in the October 17, 1884, urged men to step forward.
To such a plan no one can object; all will hope that it may be carried out, but the question is, how is it to be done? With money needed in all its departments, the College cannot afford to spend much for an ornament, and the President suggests that the work may be done by the students. With proper direction and enough to take hold there would be nothing very difficult, and we can understand how the work might be made quite attractive. We trust something may soon be done about the matter. The students should express in some way their opinion of the scheme, and their willingness or unwillingness to do their part towards carrying it out. An opportunity is now offered them for erecting a lasting monument of their devotion to their Alma Mater.
The following May, The Dartmouth announced the class of 1885 would prepare the foundation for a tower 12 feet in diameter and 75 to 80 feet high and on its Class Day would lay “with appropriate exercises,” the stone inscribed with their graduation year. The plan was for each class to put up at least 10 feet of the tower each year, then on its Class Day, lay the memorial stone carved with its class year.
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Photo courtesy of the Dartmouth Library