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Massachusetts Women's History Heritage Trail
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In 1956 the Thayer Building was created as an isolation lab for the study of diseases of large animals. On June 1, 1957 the building was dedicated to Eleanor A. Thayer as a gift of Red Acre Farm, Inc. of Stow, MA. The building came to be as part of the efforts of Red Acre Farm founder, Miss Harriet G. Bird, who "started her Red Acre Farm with one black horse, $8, and vision." One of these visions was a place to formally study animal health. According to Red Acre Farm's history: "In 1955, another of Miss Bird's dreams touched reality. At its May 10 meeting, the Board of Directors voted to give the University of Massachusetts $50,000 for the construction of a veterinary hospital for research work connected with ailments of large animals. According to the minutes of that meeting, 'Two years ago Miss Bird reported to the Annual Meeting regarding her interest and effort to have legislation enacted favoring a college in Massachusetts for the education and training of veterinary students. It was later learned that it was advisable to suspend any effort in connection with such a project at that time. The matter of training students and research work with respect to disease in animals, has however, still held a place in our Treasurer's plans, and has found an outlet in the proposed building to be erected on the grounds of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to be used for the investigation of disease of large animals. The building will be known as the 'Thayer Building'./The building was named in memory of Miss Eleanor Thayer, daughter of longtime Red Acre Farm, Inc. officer Ethel Thayer. The project was funded through the sale of shares of stock." In 2014 Thayer Laboratory was razed and assumingly the dedication memorial plaque was acquired by UMass Special Collections at the time.


  • Thayer Building, dedication plaque.
  • Thayer Building, photograph, undated.

Also see: Thayer Laboratory

Constructed: 1953, 1957

Architects: Louis Warren Ross

Thayer Animal Disease and Animal Isolation Laboratories

Following the early 20th-century construction of Stockbridge Hall, the northeastern quadrant of the campus was devoted to the departments of engineering and the physical sciences. The laboratory complex, including Gunness Laboratory(1949), Marston Hall (1950), Paige Laboratory (1950), the Animal Isolation Laboratory (1953), and Thayer Animal Disease Laboratory (1957) were developed between 1949 and 1957 in the former agricultural fields to the north of Draper Hall. The structure was originally sited adjacent to zone of military housing and a cottage, no longer extant. 

Thayer Animal Disease Laboratory represents two building projects, conducted in three phases. The Animal Isolation Laboratory, constructed c. 1953 represents the eastern building block, while the Animal Disease Laboratory (west block) completed the complex c. 1957. The laboratory building was constructed to allow the investigation of large animals with infectious diseases. 

Historic photography shows the laboratory with a concrete walk bordering the foundation (no longer extant) and set in a mown lawn with young evergreen and deciduous trees (extant, not mature). A parking area was located to the south of the building, but has since been moved closer to the southern façade, resulting in the removal of a deciduous tree at the southwestern corner of the building.pleted in three phases. The bay width of both wings is defined by a double-loaded corridor. The flat building roof extends to provide deep eaves with plaster soffits and metal fascia. A penthouse exists at the eastern block. 

The building exterior is finished with machine-made brick laid in a common-bond pattern from the foundation slab to the roof eave. The building does not possess a central entrance, but the two intersecting corridors are accessed via potentially original fenestrated wood doors. Fenestrated French doors also provide access to the penthouse. The laboratories have direct access to the exterior via individual hollow-metal doors. The façade was originally defined by double units of 1/1 double-hung sash and operable clerestory windows, however these openings have all been in-filled with brick. The original low roof vents for the laboratories have since been extended as stacks.

Naming of the building

Funds for construction were donated in memory of Eleanor A. Thayer.


Red Acre History. Red Acre Foundation. http://redacrefoundation.org/history.htm. 

Thayer Laboratory. YouMass. http://scua.library.umass.edu/youmass/doku.php?id=t:thayer_laboratory&s[]=thayer. 

Thayer Laboratory Building Razed. UMass. June 18, 2014. https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/thayer-laboratory-building-razed.