Buildings

Inner courtyard with 2 story building, children playing, and a sandbox

Glover Cottage, Perkins School for the Blind 1914. Courtyard with sandbox and students playing on the grass.

Perkins School for the Blind is named for Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a wealthy Boston businessman and philanthropist. In 1833 he donated his Pearl Street mansion in Boston as a home for the school, and in 1839 he agreed to sell it so the South Boston campus could be purchased. The school has honored his generosity by bearing his name ever since.

Many campus buildings are named for people who have been an important part of Perkins history. This display introduces some of them and explains how they contributed to the school. 


Howe Building

Perkins’ main building, with its soaring tower crowned by a symbolic lantern of education, is named after the school’s first director, Samuel Gridley Howe.

  • Allen Chapel: The chapel bears the name of the school’s third director, Dr. Edward Allen, who brought Perkins to its present location in Watertown in 1912.
  • Appleton Memorial Window: The stained glass window in the Allen Chapel was donated in memory of Francis Henry Appleton, president of the Perkins Corporation for 30 years, and his wife, Fannie Tappan Appleton.
  • Dwight Hall: The auditorium in the main building is named for John Sullivan Dwight, friend of directors Howe and Anagnos and a Perkins trustee for 18 years during the late 19th century. Dwight promoted music in public schools and in the Perkins curriculum, and compiled music books in braille.
  • Keller Sullivan Memorial Garden: Formerly the Girls’ Courtyard, the enclosed garden on the west side of the Howe Building is dedicated to Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.
  • Laura M. Sawyer Study Area: The institution's librarian for more than 25 years, Sawyer was very helpful to participants in the teacher training program jointly established by Harvard and Perkins in 1920. In gratitude, the students placed a commemorative tablet in the library.
  • Saltonstall Pool: Richard and Mary B. Saltonstall were benefactors of the school; Mr. Saltonstall served on the board for nearly 25 years during the early 20th century.
  • Samuel P. Hayes Research Library: In the 1920s, Perkins psychologist Samuel Hayes pioneered the psychological testing of people who are blind, establishing definitively that visual impairment does not diminish intelligence. The Research Library honors his dedication to scholarship and research.
  • Thorndike Room: The airy conference and staff room is named for father and son trustees August and Albert Thorndike, who also served as the Perkins treasurer for nearly 20 years, including the very challenging early years of the Great Depression.
  • Wheelwright Bells: The set of bells that chime beautifully on the quarter hour arrived from England on December 11, 1912. Mrs. Andrew C. Wheelwright, the granddaughter of Col. Thomas H. Perkins, gave them in memory of her husband.

West Side Cottages

  • Bennett Cottage: Principal of the Girls’ School, Miss Gazella Bennett "introduced both Swedish gymnastics and kindergarten methods." Perkins’ move to Watertown provided room for the home-making department she had long promoted, and the alumnae requested that it be named Bennett Cottage to honor her.
  • Brooks Cottage: Peter and Edward Brooks were trustees, benefactors and among the earliest supporters of the school and its founder Dr. Fisher.
  • Fisher Cottage: Dr. John Dix Fisher was the founder of Perkins School for the Blind. Dr. Fisher visited the school for the blind in Paris during his time as a medical student. His dedication and vision was responsible for the establishment of the first such school in the United States, the Perkins School for the Blind.
  • Keller-Sullivan Cottage: The former Director’s Cottage was renamed when it became the home of the Perkins Deafblind Program in 1956. Helen Keller participated in the dedication of the building that honored her accomplishments and the work of her teacher Anne Sullivan.
  • May Cottage: From its first years, Samuel May was a long-time Perkins trustee; later he was president of the Board of Trustees.
  • Oliver Cottage: William Oliver was a Dorchester businessman who, in his 1847 will, gave Perkins $30,000 plus 10,000 in stocks; enough to build an adult workshop.

East Side Cottages

  • Bridgman Cottage: Perkins student Laura Dewey Bridgman was the first person who was deafblind to learn language.
  • Eliot Cottage: Dr. Samuel Eliot was president of the Board of Trustees for more than 25 years until his death in 1898.
  • Moulton Cottage: Miss Maria C. Moulton was a beloved house parent for many years.
  • Tompkins Cottage: Eugene Tompkins was an eminent and munificent benefactor of the school.

Lower School

  • Anagnos Court: Michael Anagnos was second director of Perkins and founder of the Kindergarten for the Blind in 1887.
  • Anagnos Cottage: Julia Romana Anagnos was the daughter of first director Samuel Gridley Howe and wife of second director and kindergarten founder Michael Anagnos. She was devoted to the school throughout her brief life.
  • Bradlee Cottage: Miss Helen Curtis Bradlee is described as a warm and generous friend of the younger children at Perkins.
  • Colby Gymnasium: Jennie M. Colby was a Perkins alumna who became so expert "as a masseuse and in therapeutics of medical gymnastics that she was acclaimed by the medical profession as an authority." She worked at Children’s Hospital and was a Boston leader in the field of "hydrotherapeutics."
  • Edna L. Alizio Music Room: Mr. and Mrs. Alizio have been generous benefactors to Preschool and Lower School.
  • Glover Cottage: Joseph Beal Glover was a trustee and benefactor.
  • Jessica Langworthy Room: In 44 years of service, Langworthy taught in the boys' school, stepped in when the principal left to serve in World War I, and was the "special methods" instructor in the Harvard teacher training program.
  • Potter Cottage: Mrs. Sarah E. Potter was a generous benefactor to the Lower School.

Other Campus Buildings

  • Abraham Building (Howe Press machine shop): David Abraham was the head of the Industrial Arts Department and designer of the world-famous Perkins Brailler.
  • Farrell House (former bursar’s house, moved to location overlooking Charles River in late 1960s): Dr. Gabriel Farrell was the fourth director of Perkins, beginning in the school’s second century in 1931.
  • The Grousbeck Center for Students & Technology: Opened in 2011 as a dedicated space for students to gather and experiment with cutting-edge technology, made possible by the Grousbeck Family Foundation.
  • Hallowell House (former director’s home): Robert H. Hallowell served for more than 40 years as trustee, for 16 of them as President of the Board of Trustees. The new house built for Director Waterhouse bears Hallowell’s name in honor of his particular care for the buildings and grounds of the Perkins campus.
  • Hemphill Building (Maintenance): J. Stephenson Hemphill was the school’s first bursar and held that position for many years.
  • Hilton Building: The former North Building was dedicated as the Conrad N. Hilton Building in gratitude for the vital support of the Hilton Foundation, which supports the development of programs and services for children who are deafblind and blind with additional disabilities.
  • Howe Press: The press founded by Samuel Gridley Howe in 1835 has borne his name since 1880.
  • Hubbs Children’s Center (within Northeast Building): Head of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Donald Hubbs, has been a warm and generous friend of Perkins for many years.
  • Hunt House (southeast corner of campus, near Beechwood Avenue): Mary L. Hunt served as house parent in Potter and Bridgman Cottages.
  • Stickney Gate (Riverside Street entrance to the campus): Josiah Stickney was a whaling and sugar merchant who sold the Watertown campus property to Perkins.
  • The Thomas and Bessie Pappas Horticulture Center: The Pappas family generously donated funds to create a state-of-the-art greenhouse and classroom for recreational and therapeutic horticulture.
  • Trencheri Suite (within Northeast Building): Edward Trencheri was a teacher of students who were blind, one of the first two Perkins teachers who accompanied Director Howe to Boston in 1832.

Other Locations

  • Alice Louise Stewart Children’s Library: The memorial plaque for this library appears in an exhibit in the Perkins Museum. Its original location is unknown. Miss Stewart, of the class of 1918, was credited with the founding of the children’s library. "Her delightful story-telling and puppet shows" were "treasured in the hearts of many children."
  • Lenna Swinerton Alcove: Perkins was always forward-thinking in recognizing the need for mental and physical integration; in hiring Lenna Swinerton in 1907, Perkins became one of the first schools in the U.S. to add a physiotherapist to its staff. The dedication plaque appears in a Perkins Museum exhibit. Its original location in unknown.

Suggested citation for scholars

McGinnity, B.L., Seymour-Ford, J. and Andries, K.J. (2004) Campus Place Names. Perkins History Museum, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA.