Mount Holyoke students visiting Blanchard Campus Center today have a much different dress code than that of alumnae past! Built as the school’s gymnasium, Blanchard now functions as the campus social hub and beloved watering hole. Gone are the bloomers and full-body bathing suits of the early 1900s, when students practiced routines with “Indian clubs” and exercised gracefully in gymnastics classes. Today, Blanchard teems with students in down jackets and furry boots stocking up on coffee between classes, checking their mail, or grabbing a quick bite at the cafe.
Built in 1899 to serve the growing need for a new gymnasium, Blanchard Hall was named for former Mount Holyoke President Elizabeth Blanchard, class of 1858. An alumna and lifelong devotee to the mission of Mount Holyoke, Blanchard taught for 12 years before serving as principal and eventually as acting president during the year Mount Holyoke Female Seminary became Mount Holyoke College.
The building was converted in 1950 into what it is today—a home for student organization offices, lounges, an art gallery, a coffee bar, and dozens of cozy nooks and crannies for studying. Blanchard also houses the most popular campus dining hall, the Blanchard Cafe. Students can visit the ground floor’s spacious Great Room to relax during dinner, attend performances and events, or take part in Student Government Association meetings.
This January, Blanchard Campus Center was home to new spring admits and transfers starting their journeys at MHC. Orientation events throughout the month introduced new students to the functional community-building space that Blanchard provides and the services Mount Holyoke offers. Parents and families of new students enjoyed programming and a delicious lunch in the Great Room. This 2005 addition to the building features two-story glass windows and private rotunda rooms for group meals.
The FebruMary campaign is a great opportunity to learn more about the people who make this community possible, engage with Mount Holyoke history, and inspire alumnae to continue the tradition of giving. We encourage you to comment, discuss, and interact with fellow students and alumnae here, where Mary Lyon’s vision for Mount Holyoke is stronger than ever.