Nott Memorial Hall

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.


Officially designated Nott Memorial Hall but referred to by generations of students and faculty simply as "The Nott", 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.


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. . 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.

Mandeville Gallery

The Mandeville Gallery, located on the second floor of the Nott Memorial, presents changing exhibits of contemporary art, science and history. Admission is free.

Building Activity

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