Nott Memorial Hall

Also known as: Nott Memorial Hall, Union College
Union College campus, Schenectady, New York

16 sided building designed by Joseph Ramee built in 1858


Union College

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



The 16-sided Nott Memorial building is dedicated to Eliphalet Nott, president of Union College and major leader of American education, whose many innovations included a scientific curriculum and the first introduction of engineering at a liberal arts college.

The Nott Memorial was conceived by President Nott in consultation with the French architect Joseph Ramée, who created the master plan for Union's campus. His plan included a circular building originally envisioned as an alumni hall. Construction finally began on the building in 1858, based on designs by Edward Tuckerman Potter, grandson of President Nott.

The Nott Memorial is 89 feet in diameter and capped with a ribbed dome. The dome is sprinkled with 709 small colored glass windows, or “illuminators.” Girding the lower portion of the dome is a band of red slates bearing a modified inscription from the Talmud. In its simplest translation, the phrase says, “the day is short, the work is great, the reward is much, the Master is urgent.”

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 1972
Reference number
Architectural styles
Victorian: Gothic; Other architectural type; High Victorian Gothic
Areas of significance
Engineering; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
College; Museum
Current functions
College; Theater
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1850-1874
Significant years
1858; 1876; 1902

Update Log 

  • May 23, 2020: New photos from solarconstant
  • February 2, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • May 9, 2018: New photo from Richard Doody