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Free walking tours of Vassar College history to be offered on April 26 and May 10, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Free 90-minute walking tours of the historic Vassar College campus will be led by Colton Johnson, Dean Emeritus of the College, on Saturday, April 26, at 10:00am and 1:00pm., and again on Saturday, May 10, at 10:00am and 1:00pm. All tours will begin at the front entrance to the college's Main Building, and will be held rain or shine.

Main Building is one of two Vassar structures on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the observatory built for the college's first faculty member, the preeminent astronomer Maria Mitchell. Highlights of the tour will also include the college's Thompson Memorial Library, famous both as an early exemplar of collegiate gothic design and for its stunning two-story Cornaro stained glass window.

From his very founding of the college in 1861, Matthew Vassar set out to create an exceptional physical environment for learning. By steadily integrating thoughtful landscape and structural design, the college has transformed the grounds of the former Dutchess County Racetrack into one of the world's most revered academic places. Significantly, Vassar College has never relied upon a predominant architectural style, so over the decades it has grown to showcase the work of such leading and varied architects as James Renwick, Jr. Francis R. Allen, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Cesar Pelli.

"What could have been more symbolic than to start a college for women and build the largest building in America [Main] to house that program," said Vassar alumna Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, and co-author of the 2004 book Vassar College: The Campus Guidebook (Princeton Architectural Press).

To sign up for one of the free walking tours, or for more information, call Martha Morrison in the Office of College Relations at (845) 437-7400, or e-mail The college is located on Raymond Avenue in the Town of Poughkeepsie, and free on-campus parking is available. Directions to Vassar can be found at

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, April 17, 2008