Vassar College

Two free walking tours of Vassar College history to be offered

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Free 90-minute walking tours of the historic Vassar College campus will be led by Colton Johnson, Dean Emeritus of the College, on Saturday, October 27, at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., beginning at the front entrance to the college's Main Building.

Main is one of two Vassar structures on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the observatory built for the college's first faculty member, the preeminent astronomer Maria Mitchell. Highlights of the tour will also include the college's Thompson Memorial Library, famous both as an early exemplar of collegiate gothic design and for its stunning two-story Cornaro stained glass window.

From his very founding of the college in 1861, Matthew Vassar set out to create an exceptional physical environment for learning. By steadily integrating thoughtful landscape and structural design, the college has transformed the grounds of the former Dutchess County Racetrack into one of the world's most revered academic places. Significantly, Vassar College has never relied upon a predominant architectural style, so over the decades it has grown to showcase the work of such leading and varied architects as James Renwick, Jr. Francis R. Allen, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Cesar Pelli.

"What could have been more symbolic than to start a college for women and build the largest building in America to house that program," said Vassar alumna Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, and co-author of the 2004 book Vassar College: The Campus Guidebook (Princeton Architectural Press).

To sign up for one of the free walking tours, or for more information, contact the Office of College Relations at (845) 437-7405 or The college is located on Raymond Avenue in the Town of Poughkeepsie, free parking is available on campus, and further directions can be found at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities, (845) 437–5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Photo of campus in the fall
Vassar College campus (photo: Tamar Thibodeau)

Stained glass
Detail of Cornaro stained glass window in the Thompson Memorial Library (photo: Tamar Thibodeau)

124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12604