Vassar College Old Observatory

Vassar’s Education Department inhabits the quirky spaces designed in 1864 for America’s first woman astronomer, Maria Mitchell.

The circular entrance, formerly the foundation for the telescope above, is the department office ringed with wall murals describing the building’s history. The building’s three wings are reconfigured into faculty offices, student workspace, and a seminar room. The office walls are made of glass, a light modern intervention within the original brick bearing walls. The Dome Room, which originally housed telescopes, is the Education Department’s library and student lounge. This space is once again the setting for “dome parties,” a tradition begun by Mitchell of using the space as a gathering place for discussions about politics and women’s issues. New stairs and elevator, climate control, and electrical infrastructure bring the building in compliance with current codes.

Poughkeepsie, New York

5,586 gross square feet

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