By: Emily Machlin
This paper will discuss Stephen C. Earle and his connection to Salisbury Laboratories and to Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It will compare other works of his time and other building details to Salisbury Labs while touching on expansions and additions to the building.
From the beginning of Worcester Polytechnic Institute architecture has been a big part of the campus feeling. And over time every building that has been built has in some way tried itself into the previous campus feel. Salisbury Laboratories is one of these buildings. Originally designed by Stephen C. Earle, whom also designed many other prolific buildings, this building is an example of one of his many works. Throughout the growth of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and throughout the additions to its campus Salisbury has remained the most used of all the buildings. With its continuous growth and renovations it is clear that architects the followed Stephen Earle tried to make the additions fit his work as much as possible. Seeing Salisbury and comparing it to other buildings by Earle just shows how much of himself and his style he likes to incorporate into his work.
In the early 19th century Stephen Salisbury I had helped to establish Worcester as a center of trade between Worcester and Providence and the hundreds of small towns in the interior New England. He had extensive land holdings in Worcester, including most of the west side of the city, which when passing all went to his son, Stephen Salisbury II. Stephen Salisbury II had been a well-off merchant and in 1865 was the city's most prominent citizen when John Boynton first made his proposal to establish the Worcester County Free Institute (what is now Worcester Polytechnic Institute). On June 3, 1865, Stephen Salisbury II was voted to be the first president of the Institute's board of directors. When a site for the school was found, Salisbury offered five acres and a sum of money. That was the beginning of his many donations of money and land. Ten recorded gifts there has been $236,000 along with many unknown smaller donations. He provided most of the land that WPI now occupies and also provided the land that is now Institute Park. In addition to his gifts, Salisbury led the trustees through the early years of the school1. Stephen Salisbury II died in 1884 and his son, Stephen Salisbury III, honored his memory with a $100,000 gift, which the Institute used to construct Salisbury Laboratories in 18882.
Stephen Earle was commissioned for the new building. In June of 1887 the building was approved and construction started. The arrangement of the four story building was planned by the professors themselves to be as useful as possible. The building was named Salisbury Laboratories in honor of Stephen Salisbury II and Stephen Salisbury III at the laying of the corner stone in 1888 for their service to the Institute. The building began to serve the department of mechanical engineering, chemistry, and physics immediately upon completion. The new laboratory was at full capacity four years after completion. In 1893, plans were submitted and approved by the board to enlarge the facilities. It wasn’t until 1939 that two additions were made to the building. Electrical Engineering came to occupy some of this space but most of it was occupied by Kinnicutt Hall, named in honor of Leonard P. Kinnicutt, head of the Chemistry Department from 1892 to 1911. Since 1939 two renovations were made to the building, in 1976 and 19982.
When Salisbury III donated money in memory of his father he included a letter. In this letter he explained why he was donating. It said:
“The school is suffering for the want of laboratories for these branches of institution and training. I am anxious to assist in meeting this pressing need of the school by placing at the disposal of Trustees the sum of one hundred thousand dollars to be expended by them