Northam Towers is a student dormitory, which was part of the new campus plan (1874) for the current Long Walk. Northam was designed by Francis H. Kimball and constructed in conjunction with Seabury Hall and Jarvis Hall.
Northam Towers was named for Colonel Charles Northam, who donated $40,000 for the new buildings upon his death in 1881. Construction began in 1878 and was completed in 1883. Dedication ceremonies for a new campus flagpole in front of Northam Towers took place on Flag Day, June 27, 1894.
In the late 1890s and early 1900s, a tradition called the "St. Patrick's Day Scrap," which originated on the Original Campus in the 1870s, took place within and around Northam. On St. Patrick's Day, a banner, or flag, was raised on the building, and freshmen and sophomores would fight over possession of the banner. The fighting would even spill into various locations in Hartford, with the banner appearing on the scaffolding of the dome of the Connecticut state capitol building in 1902 and the Memorial Arch on Trinity Street, among other locations in the first decade of the twentieth century. In 1910, it was decided that the “scrap” would be confined to the Summit Campus.
In 1904, the first issue of the bi-weekly Trinity Tripod was issued from its office at 12 Northam Towers. At 1 Northam Towers, the Trinity Tablet was also available that same year for purchase at $.10 per copy.
One of the enduring traditions of Trinity College takes place at the Luther-Roosevelt Long Walk Inscription, which is a rectangular stone set into the sidewalk directly in front of the Fuller Arch at Northam Towers. On this stone is an inscription from the Bible, 1 Kings 20:11, which reads “Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.”
This quote was at the center of a Commencement address delivered at Trinity in 1918 by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who had come to the College at the request of Trinity President Flavel S. Luther. After this address, Trinity students began the tradition of not stepping on the stone prior to their graduation, in fear that doing so would prevent them from graduating. At each commencement ceremony, graduating seniors ceremonially step on the stone as they pass it in the procession on the way to the ceremony.
Work was done on Northam Towers as part of the $32.9 million dollar Long Walk restoration and renovation project begun on May 21, 2007 and completed August 28, 2008. Extensive exterior and interior work was completed, including the removal of and/or repair of cast iron and lead windows, cleaning of the brownstone exterior, addition of a new slate roof with 123,000 tiles, returning the room suites to their original layout, as well as mechanical and electrical repairs and upgrades.
Trinity Reporter, Fall-Winter 2008, pp. 23-24.
Trinity College in the Twentieth Century (2000) by Peter and Anne Knapp, pp. 33-46.
Trinity Tripod, 03/15/1912.
Trinity Tablet, October 14, 1904, p. 1.
Trinity Tripod, 09/23/1904.
Trinity Tablet, December 15, 1883, pp. 147-148.