The new Hurwitz Admission Center in historic James B. Colgate Hall fosters a completely reimagined campus visit.

By Rebecca Costello, Photography by Andrew Daddio

Historic images from university archives

For many alumni, James B. Colgate Hall is likely the first building they ever entered on campus. Generations of prospective students and their families have passed through its arched entranceways to the admission lobby. But, the stately structure wasn’t always the gateway to learning about the university’s offerings. Originally, it was the James B. Colgate Library — the gateway to knowledge of all kinds.

Constructed of brown and blue stone, it opened in January 1891. The building’s namesake (a trustee since 1861) had offered to provide a fireproof home for the library. Colgate historian Howard D. Williams ’30 called it “perhaps the most imposing, and certainly the most durable structure of the Dodge period [President Ebenezer Dodge, 1868-90].” By the early 1930s, the burgeoning collection was outgrowing the library’s capacity. Its replacement structure was dedicated in 1959 and named for President Everett Needham Case in 1962.

“Colgate has been extraordinary to me,” said Dan Hurwitz at the center’s dedication ceremony. “I thought it was really important that we had a front door to Colgate that showed everyone what a special place this is.”

For a short while after Case Library opened, James B. Colgate Hall served as home to the Romance languages department. But in October 1963, a major fire destroyed another building, the old Colgate Academy, which had housed the university’s administrative offices. An extensive renovation — including the addition of another floor — turned J.B. Colgate Hall into the new “ad building” (as many refer to it today, although it’s up for debate whether “ad” stands for “administration” or “admission”).

Another major renovation just this past year has transformed the building’s vaulted spaces. Thanks to the generosity of Dan ’86 and Ellie Hurwitz P’17 and other alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends, the Hurwitz Admission Center fosters a completely reimagined campus visit that honors our history while demonstrating the student experience on campus and around the world — and the power of a Colgate degree.

“Colgate has been extraordinary to me,” said Dan Hurwitz at the center’s dedication ceremony. “I thought it was really important that we had a front door to Colgate that showed everyone what a special place this is.”


James B. Colgate Library, 1891–1958

From top left:

1 – James B. Colgate, speaking to the crowd at the laying of the cornerstone for the library that bears his name

2 – James B. Colgate Library cost $140,000 to build.

3, 4 – Colgate historian Howard Williams ’30 noted that the “spot ultimately chosen [for James B. Colgate Library] had been the farm of Daniel Hascall, who will be remembered as one of the Thirteen Men and the first teacher.”

5 – Several yellowed handwritten notes in the university archives’ files on the building detail an intriguing list of names, from authors to Greek goddesses, indicating plaster casts from the Caproni Catalog. But what has become of Victor Hugo, St. George, Niobe, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the others? Today, the whereabouts of the statues that graced the reading room and loggia is a mystery.

6 – Circa 1950 – Hitting the books on the first floor

7 – Down and out. Workers built a conveyor track system to transport the tens of thousands of pounds of books from James B. Colgate Library to the new Everett N. Case Library in 1958.


Hurwitz Admission Center, 2014

“This is the place where students figure it all out. When you walk in here, you’re thinking, is this the place for me? I always tell people that Colgate might not be the place for them. That’s probably not what you expected me to say.

“But we’re not trying to say that we are better than another university. We are trying to present you with what we have to offer, in a way that people will feel comfortable and that they are making their own decision. With the new, innovative, less-distracting structure of this facility, it makes students feel like they can make their decision in a calm and welcoming environment.”

— Kori Strother ’15, admission tour guide, spoke at the dedication in June


From top left:

1 – Architect Edwin Quick, who was a neighbor of James B.’s in Yonkers, N.Y., called his design “Romanesque-American” style.

2, 4, 7Visitors to the new Hurwitz Admission Center learn about Colgate’s opportunities through digital media — such as video stories about students in the lobby and vibrant displays of photos and factoids in the presentation room. They also get the personal student touch through conversations with greeters and tour guides, topped off with the Chipwich finale that’s been a sweet and cool end-of-tour tradition for more than 15 years.

3,5 Originally open to the elements, the side porches that formed the entrances now serve as flexible waiting rooms for visitors.

6 – A Colgate education at work: Interactive screens in the waiting room allow visitors to access dozens of profiles of successful young alumni in a variety of career fields.



Check out construction, before-and-after, and dedication photo galleries