Nott Memorial

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nott Memorial Hall
View from east, 2009
Nott Memorial is located in New York
Nott Memorial
Nott Memorial is located in the US
Nott Memorial
Location Schenectady, New York
Coordinates 42°49′2.06″N 73°55′49.09″W / 42.8172389°N 73.9303028°W / 42.8172389; -73.9303028Coordinates: 42°49′2.06″N 73°55′49.09″W / 42.8172389°N 73.9303028°W / 42.8172389; -73.9303028
Built 1858
Architect Edward Tuckerman Potter
Architectural style Gothic, Other
NRHP reference # 72000912
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 5, 1972[1]
Designated NHL June 24, 1986[2]

The Nott Memorial is an elaborate 16-sided stone-masonry building which serves as both architectural and physical centerpiece of Union College in Schenectady, New York. Dedicated to Eliphalet Nott, president of Union for a remarkable sixty-two years (1804–1866), the 110-foot (34 m) high by 89-foot (27 m) wide structure is a National Historic Landmark.


Nott Memorial in 1962

Officially designated Nott Memorial Hall but referred to by generations of students and faculty simply as "The Nott" or "The Nipple" (sometimes "The Nipple of Knowledge"), the building's centrality and initial design trace back to Josef Ramee's 1813 conception of the school grounds, the first planned college campus in the United States.

The Memorial was designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter, architect of area churches and homes, alumnus of the college, and grandson of President Nott. Construction began in 1858 and was completed in 1879. The result is one of very few 16-sided buildings in the world.

For nearly a century the Nott was mostly open inside. In 1961 the college moved its bookstore into the basement and configured the first two floors into theater in the round. The upper floors were eventually closed off and fell into disrepair.


Interior of the Nott Memorial

In 1993 the college began a complete renovation of the Nott, restoring it to its original design. The award-winning project was undertaken by noted Boston based architecture firm Finegold Alexander + Associates Inc and carried out by A.J. Martini, Inc., contractors.[3] The bookstore and theater were moved to other locations on the campus, and in 1995 the Nott reopened on the celebration of Union's 200th anniversary.

Once again, the center of the Nott is completely open to the top of its dome 102 feet (31 m) overhead. The main floor is a meeting room with seating for up to 400; the second and third levels ring the space and include galleries and informal meeting places for students. Two-hundred eighty-eight restored stained glass windows bathe the interior in colored light. Atop the dome a quotation in colored slate from Rabbi Tarfon, found in the Talmud's Pirkei Avot, proclaims in Hebrew: "The day is short, the work is great, the reward is much, the Master is urgent."

The Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.[2][4]

Mandeville Gallery[edit]

The Interior of the Nott Memorial. The Mandeville Gallery is the second floor.

The Mandeville Gallery, opened in 1995 following the major restoration of the Nott Memorial and is located on the second floor. The Mandeville Gallery presents changing exhibitions featuring nationally recognized contemporary artists exploring modern issues.

The Wikoff Student Gallery is located on the third floor of the Nott Memorial and presents changing exhibitions featuring current Union College students and alumni.

Due to the unusual architecture of the Nott Memorial, the Mandeville Gallery provides a unique environment for viewing exhibitions. The Gallery is a mezzanine, open to the floors above and below, and is composed of two semi-circular areas of viewing, creating an atypical but creative gallery venue.

All gallery exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Nott Memorial Hall". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-17. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. 
  3. ^ Martini Construction – Union College Nott Memorial
  4. ^ Carolyn Pitts (July 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Nott Memorial Hall" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying photo, exterior, from 1964 (97.8 KiB)

External links[edit]