Samuel Valentine Cole (1851-1925)
Gray-blue slate tablet, carved with gold lettering, framed with carved dark wood
It was the vision of Samuel Valentine Cole to make Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts a four-year college from a seminary for women, and thus he became one of the most important figures in its history. Noticed by Mrs. Wheaton when he was still a minister, she appointed him as a trustee in 1893. He worked tirelessly to transform the institution until he reached his goal in 1912. During that time he graduated from the Board to the position of President, all the while making improvements in the curriculum and quality of the faculty.
His most noticeable achievement was the beautiful campus plan designed by the renown ecclesiastical architect, Ralph Adams Cram as his first academic project.
The prize-winning and very beautiful classic Georgian Revival chapel (Council of Independent Colleges, historic Campus Architecture Project online info.) stood at the center of the campus in the same way that New England towns were designed with a church on a green, but it was also the center of this spiritual community of women who visited it every morning. Built in 1917, it became the place for all services and celebrations as well as lectures, concerts, convocations and ceremonies. “At Wheaton, with budgets low and aspirations high, elegant details are used sparingly. … The spiritual and physical welfare of the whole person was Cram’s guiding light.” (The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office by Ethan Anthony, 2007, p.141)
Frederick Warren Allen had a professional association with Cram as part of a group of Boston artisans, artists and architects at the time of Isabella Stewart Gardner and the golden age of art in Boston. Another Boston architect associated with this group was the very successful architect Guy Lowell who had designed the Evans Wing of the MFA in Boston for which Allen had been commissioned to create a bas relief panel for the exterior. Shortly before the dedication of the chapel at Wheaton, Lowell had also commissioned Allen to create and execute the decorative sculptures on the Supreme Court in Manhattan. Ten years later, Allen created the tympanum over the West portal of the Church of the Advent for Cram who had designed the Lady Chapel’s gothic interior just inside the doors.
At Wheaton, a gray-blue slate was chosen for the memorial tablet, into which he carved the words of the memorial inscription. The same stone was used behind the portrait of Annie Talbot Cole within the chapel nave. The old style serif lettering with round O’s is gold, with the seal of the college centered above it in gold, green and blue. The tablet is framed in carved dark wood with an arched central segment above the seal.
Location: Cole Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Norton, MA, in the narthex or porch under the spire
Inscription: “COLE MEMORIAL CHAPEL / TO THE GLORY OF GOD / AND IN MEMORY OF / SAMUEL VALENTINE COLE / DECEMBER 29 1851 / MAY 6 1925 / PRESIDENT of WHEATON SEMINARY / 1897 1912 / PRESIDENT of WHEATON COLLEGE / 1912 1925
This Chapel is dedicated to those / OLD IDEALS and NEW HORIZONS / to which Dr Cole was consecrated”