Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
Constructed in 1896, this was the first building completed on the east side of Library Lane. Although it was built for James Patterson, Professor of Mathematics, he stayed there only one year before leaving the College. In 1898, Professor Sidney Ashmore, Professor of Latin Language and Literature, moved in. The Ashmores were friends of Mrs. Perkins, and their son Sidney played with little Nathan Hale. Mrs. Perkins sympathized with Mrs. Ashmore when Sigma Phi decided to build their house next to them. “She is distracted to think of herself between two Fraternity Houses; indeed one naturally hates to have any house there. There is such a pretty view” (March 10, 1904). Mrs. Ashmore often entertained students and faculty in her home. Unfortunately, the house was also often uncomfortable: one winter the Ashmores wore shawls and put rugs over their feet to stay warm; another time Mrs. Perkins reported that “the poor Ashmore’s [sic] roof leaks down on the new Dining Room ceiling + the nasty cheap lead pipes have burst + their lawn is dug up again!!!” (undated letter, 1904). The building remained a faculty residence until it was remodeled to house the first women students to arrive on campus in 1970. Previously known by its occupants’ names, the building is now called John Blair Smith House in honor of the first President of Union College.