"Home of Calvin Coolidge and Smith College" Northampton by atufft

Northampton Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 52 photos

The Tradition of Women's Colleges in New England

New England is home to many women's colleges, most of them now integrated for men during this modern age. Originally, it was difficult for women to acquire the same quality of education as men, so wealthy women founded colleges that would provide a place for women to study. These colleges have traditional affiliations with men's colleges; for Smith that affiliation is Amherst College and Yale University, according to Wikipedia. Also note, that Smith is one of the "Seven Sisters"--Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Vassar College, Wellesley College, and Smith. All were founded between 1837 and 1889, with Smith being founded in 1871. Wikipedia also notes that "four of these institutions are in Massachusetts, two are in New York, and one is in Pennsylvania. Radcliffe (which merged with Harvard College) and Vassar (which is now coeducational) are no longer women's colleges. Today, the remaining five schools refer to themselves collectively as "The Sisters."

Interestingly, Wikipedia also notes that alumnae include: Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Julia Child, Madeleine L'Engle, Margaret Mitchell, Sylvia Plath, and Yolanda King, that the first ever Women's Basketball game was played at Smith College in 1892, and that Charlotte York, a character in the show Sex and the City is a Smith College graduate.

The campus itself is rather modest in artistic architectural expression, perhaps due to a preference for restrained and conservative architectural forms, I don't know. However, this is more than made up for by the hilly location and substantial landscaping of the college grounds. Smith College is famous for it's Botanical Gardens and greenhouses. Also, the unique system of 36 houses used as dorms, provides in some cases, historic residential architecture for student life.

Less Puritanical Downtown Northampton

Down the hill from Smith College is the main street district of restaurants, boutique shops, coffee houses, and bars. The city of Northampton predates the college by nearly two hundred years, and is the county seat of Hampshire County, Massachusetts. This is the town from where Calvin Coolidge rose from obscurity, becoming a local politician, rising to the level of MA governor, becoming president, then returning the Northampton to his small legal practice. I didn't have time to visit his presidential library, but there is one in town. Coolidge by the way is credited with the laissez faire governing style that led to the Great Depression, and the hero for later president Ronald Reagan.

A city on the banks of the Connecticut River

Northampton sits on the banks of the Connecticut River, within the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and is just north of Springfield, the largest city in western Massachusetts. The township enjoys a scenic bike trail system that runs along old railroad routes.

  • Last visit to Northampton: May 2011
  • Intro Updated May 14, 2011
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (7)



“California is on the edge of the planet, not the center of the universe”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 5 9
Forum Rank:
0 0 2 6 0

Badges & Stats in Northampton

  • 7 Reviews
  • 29 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 844PageViews

Have you been to Northampton?

  Share Your Travels  

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)