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Eight Sides

by Darya A Bor

Edward Hitchcock, portrait, facing right, circa 1854

Hitchcock and the Octagon

The myth goes like this: Reverend Edward Hitchcock, third President of Amherst College, loved religion, loved geology, and loved octagons. Why not combine these loves into one building?

My goal was to find out how involved was Hitchcock with the creation of the modern entity of the Octagon – how involved was he in the creation of the Octagon? Where do the paths of science and architecture cross? How far did the Octagon stray from its initial purpose? Why is it still standing when so many other examples of interesting architecture in Amherst College have been homogenized?

With these questions in mind, I scavenged through the Archives & Special Collections, hoping to find answers to the overarching question that bothered me and my research team more than any other:

What is Edward Hitchcock’s legacy?

And my narrowed version:

What did Edward Hitchcock tangibly leave behind?