Selected Chronology

Joseph Edgerly

1894—Fitchburg Normal School established by the Massachusetts legislature to educate and train teachers for the region’s schools.

1895—First classes offered at the Academy Street School in downtown Fitchburg. 46 women enrolled, hailing from 17 Massachusetts towns as well New Hampshire and Vermont. John G. Thompson named to head the new school.

John G. Thompson

1896—College moved to new building, Thompson Hall, on present site. Incoming class exceeds 100 students. Named for Normal School Principal John G. Thompson, building originally held a gymnasium and a library, as well as offices for student organizations. It was connected by tunnels to Edgerly Hall and the Behavioral Science Building that was itself later renamed Percival Hall).

1897—First graduating class receives diploma.

1898—Alumni Association founded. Ruth Jefts elected first alumni president.

1900 – Edgerly School, named for Fitchburg Schools Superintendent Joseph G. Edgerly, opens on the main campus. Edgerly was one of the Normal School’s founders. Today the building is known as Edgerly Hall and includes classroom and office space.

1903 – Miller Hall, housing the women’s dorm, opens. The building was converted into offices in 1973. The building is named for Joel D. Miller, a state senator and member of the state Board of Education who is considered one of the founders of Fitchburg State. Today the building houses academic offices as well as the Miller Oval.

Normal School Class of 1910

1909—The Practical Arts teacher training course for men, the first of its kind in the country, is instituted. Junior high school built, later named for Professor Harold Percival, renamed in honor of the psychologist who taught in the college’s Behavioral Science Department.

1910—Edgerly School becomes one of the first junior high schools in the country. Manual arts building is dedicated.

1912—Athletic program begins with basketball competition against local high schools and colleges.

1915—First summer extension courses offered, representing the beginning of continuing education at the college.

1922—First Saxifrage yearbook produced. Student Government Association established.

1932—Normal School becomes the State Teachers College at Fitchburg. Programs leading to the bachelor’s degree announced.

Anthony Building

1935 – Anthony Building, named for Professor Willis B. Anthony, opens. Anthony was chairman of the Industrial Arts Department, which was located in this building until 1976.

College authorized to establish graduate programs.

World War Two cadets

1940s – In response to World War II, Fitchburg State begins flight training program for Army and Navy.

1943—Nursing program begins with cooperative nursing education effort with Burbank Hospital.

1946—Landmark general education program established. First intramural athletics program started.

1952—Special needs education program begins.

Herlihy Hall 1950s

1956—Funding approved for construction of a dormitory and dining hall on the west side of North Street, signaling the college’s first expansion beyond the main quadrangle and the beginning of a decade of physical growth. Herlihy Hall is dedicated in 1958 for Charles Herlihy, who served as president from 1927 to 1945. An addition to the dining hall is built over North Street in 1958 and, in 1976, is named in honor of Roger F. Holmes, head of the History Department and dean of graduate studies (and a gourmet cook).

1956—Parkinson Gymnasium opens. Named for William D. Parkinson, the institution’s second president, who served from 1920 to 1927. The building also housed classes for first aid as well as health and fitness. The building was torn down to make room for the future science complex, but the gymnasium in the Athletics and Recreation Center on North Street still carries Parkinson’s name.

1960—Name changed to State College at Fitchburg. College empowered to award degrees in disciplines other than education.

1962—Nursing program, in conjunction with Burbank Hospital, established on campus.

1960s Saxifrage

1963 – Condike Science Building opens. Named for Professor George Condike of the Chemistry Department, it also included space for studying physics, biology anatomy, physiology and microbiology. When the science complex was renovated in 2015, the original building was renamed the Condike Wing. Also, administration building opens, and is unnamed until 1976 when it was named for William Sanders, the institution’s fourth president, who served from 1945 to 1950. Sanders had helped the school capitalize on the boom in college attendance following World War II, accommodating returning veterans with programs and supports including affordable housing. Also this year, Weston Auditorium opens, named for Ralph F. Weston who was president of the institution from 1953 to 1963. The 800-seat theater still hosts a variety of live events.

1964—Medical Technology program established.

1965—Name changed to Fitchburg State College. Also, land purchased for athletic field, later renamed for Robert J. Elliot, the institution’s athletic director from 1942 to 1967. Adjacent land for the athletic complex was purchased in 1972.

Aubuchon Construction 1960s

1966 – Aubuchon Hall opens, first as a dormitory for women. Named for William F. Aubuchon, who chaired the institution’s board for nine years.

1970—All College Council instituted.

1971 – Russell Towers opens, named for Helen Ross-Russell, a professor in the Biology Department and later dean of the college, director of admissions and registrar.

1971—Special education program established. McKay School opens, named for Edith McKay, who had provided the land upon which it was built to the city for development.

Hammond Lounge

1974 - Hammond Building, housing the campus library, opens (the campus center portion of the building opens the following year). Named for President James J. Hammond, who led Fitchburg State from 1962-1975. The library was named for Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio ’38 in 2002 in recognition of her philanthropic support of the institution.

1975—Business Administration program established. Conlon Building opens, named after Florence Conlon, a professor of fine arts from 1919 to 1961.

1976 –Facilities building opens, later named for John P. Dupont, who worked for the institution as a steam fireman from 1947 to 1961 and later chief engineer of the power plant from 1961 to 1986. The university’s signature smokestack is attached to this building.

1977—Communications/Media program approved. First fall convocation.

1970s – Newman Center opens as institutional chapel. Renamed the Aldo and Anna Guglielmi Mazzaferro Center in 2009. Anna Mazzaferro graduated from Fitchburg State in 1977.

President Mara

1978—President Vincent J. Mara establishes the Fitchburg State College Foundation, and launches extensive fundraising program. First honors convocation.

1979—Harrod Lecture Series, a showcase of faculty talent, begins.

1981—Montachusett Economic Center established to assist area businesses.

1988—Sweeping new Liberal Arts and Sciences program approved.

1989 – Mara Village residence hall complex opens, named for Vincent J. Mara, who served as president from 1976 to 1995. The residence hall complex now spans eight buildings.

1994—College celebrates its centennial. Successful capital campaign brings overall endowment to $3.5 million.

1998—First online courses offered.

1999—Center for Italian Culture (CIC) founded. The CIC encourages the understanding and appreciation of all aspects of Italian language and culture through programming and support of international experiences.

2000—Athletics and Recreation Center opens on North Street.

ALFA classes

2004—Online courses expand with changes to technology infrastructure. Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA), a lifelong learning institute offering non-credit daytime classes and special events, is founded.

2005—Fitchburg State takes over management of Wallace Civic Center and renovates ice rink.

2010—Name changed to Fitchburg State University. Undergraduate Conference for Research and Creative Practice launches.

Hammond Hall Ribbon-Cutting

2012—Renovated Hammond Hall reopens, creating “front door” to campus bridging university and wider community.

2013 – Robert V. and Jeanne S. Antonucci Science Complex is dedicated, named for the President Emeritus (2003 to 2015) and his wife. The building contains the Irving Wing, named in honor of benefactors Donald R. ’72, ’79 and Karen A. Irving ’90, as well as the Lisciotti Pavilion, named for former Board of Trustees Chairman Gregg P. Lisciotti, another benefactor. Visitors to the complex enter the Fiorentino Foyer, named for benefactors Michael V. Fiorentino ’71 and Pamela A. Fiorentino. Fiorentino was a faculty member and provost at Fitchburg State.

2015—University launches groundbreaking police program, whose graduates complete two degrees and certification to work in municipal police departments across the state.

2016—University purchases Main Street Theater Block as site of game design studio and ideaLab. Renovation of theater itself under review.

Landry Arena

2018—Carmelita Landry Arena at Wallace Civic Center re-dedicated as year-round sports conditioning facility for varsity athletes and students in Exercise and Sports Science program. First class of police program graduates.

2019—New majors in environmental public health and educational studies launch. University celebrates 125 years of changing lives.