The Hermitage (1842-1905)

The first magnetic observatory was built in 1842 by Albert Hopkins, professor of astronomy and natural history and brother of President Mark Hopkins. It was a small octagonal building constructed of brick and located near the old site of Hopkins Observatory (therefore close to where Fitch now stands). This observatory was initially used "for ascertaining and exhibiting the laws of Terrestrial Magnetism." When these observations ceased, a student lived there collecting weather statistics. By the 1870s, the Hermitage, as it was then called, was no longer used for scientific purposes and it became a dormitory "occupied by students of a solitary, quiet, and retiring nature who love the wild scenes of the South College ball ground." (Williams Athenaeum, May 26, 1883, p.36) The Hermitage was razed upon the construction of Fitch House (then called Berkshire Hall) in 1905.