Maxcy Hall
Today’s Maxcy Hall opened late in 1909 as the third and final location of the New Haven County Temporary Home for Dependent and Neglected Children, an institution that had started out in the Tyler City section of Orange in 1884. A photo of the new building appeared on the front page of the New Haven Evening Register of July 9, 1909, with the cost reported there as $150,000. The architects were William H. Allen and Richard Williams, whose firm Allen and Williams also designed the New Haven County Courthouse and many other civic, commercial, and residential structures in the Elm City. The children first arrived in early November from the home’s previous location at Shelton Ave. and Bassett St. in New Haven where they lived in an older wooden house that was overcrowded and lacked modern fire protection. The latter was of particular concern to the county commissioners who pressed for the new building, which was of brick, fireproof construction, with interior hoses and exterior hydrants fed by two large water tanks on the property. The new home, plus a smaller annex in matching Colonial Revival style, was built to accommodate as many as 300 children with classrooms, dormitories, recreational facilities, a chapel, an infirmary, and staff quarters. Located on a 25-acre Allingtown hill site, the magnificent vista was an added bonus. An elderly man who visited shortly after the opening declared that these ‘poor’ children were “richer than thousands in the city” and living here “ought to help in making them fine men and women.” The home was lauded for its “palatial appointments,” praised as the “finest County Home in the state,” and was perhaps the only one specially built for its intended purpose. A half-century later, the institutional approach to child care had fallen out of favor, and all eight county homes were closed in 1955. The vacant property here was purchased in 1960 by New Haven College, which grew to become the University of New Haven in 1970. The structure was known simply as the Main Building until June 4, 1987 when it was named for Dr. Ellis C. Maxcy who headed the college from 1932 to 1937 during the Great Depression. Maxcy Hall continues to be UNH’s ‘main building’ today with classrooms, university offices, and other support facilities. The year 2009 calls for celebration as the hundredth anniversary of a building that has housed and educated thousands and improved the lives of the many “fine men and women” who have passed through its doors.
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