Anderson Center

Exploring the history of Anderson Center

Q: Who is Anderson? Why is Anderson Center round?

Anderson Center

A: Anderson Center for the Arts opened in the fall of 1973, but it was not formally dedicated to President Adolph Anderson and Mrs. Margaret L. Anderson until October 1, 1976, a few months after President Anderson's death. President Anderson, who famously stated "can't we have one building with curved lines around here?" and Mrs. Anderson, who made preliminary sketches of the building's resulting design, took up the cause for an arts building as soon as they arrived on campus in 1969.

At the time, the art and music departments were housed in a military surplus building meant to serve as a temporary solution to the college's urgent need for facilities after World War II. Known as "Cardboard Alley," and described in 1973 by The Daily Star as a "beloved eyesore," the building had stood on Hartwick's campus for more than 25 years, always with the expectation that it would be torn down at almost any moment. At the 1976 opening for the Center for the Arts, Board Chairman Marion Stephenson stated that the Center had "quite literally set the stage in creating a climate for the arts at Hartwick College. The effect was as dramatic as the contrast between our former Cardboard Alley and the facility we are enjoying this afternoon ..."

By 1974, the College catalog boasted that the Center, "provides facilities for a wide range of experiences including photography, video, foundry, jewelry and weaving in addition to the traditional areas such as ceramics, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and art history." By 1976, an Art major had been established, there were artists and craftsmen in residence, and cultural events and performances were regularly held at the Center.

The Andersons had envisaged the Center as an educational resource for the college and a cultural resource for the local community, which had long supported and nurtured the college. As Mrs. Anderson put it, the Center is an "affirmation" of President Anderson's "conviction that creativity and art, allied with intellect, are central to our lives."