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Frank Sargent Hoffman
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
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Hoffman House, circa 1900
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File

This house was built in 1872 as a home for the College President at the time, Eliphalet Nott Potter.  Its construction, which was funded by Potter’s father-in-law Joseph Fuller, was necessitated by the fact that after the death of former President Eliphalet Nott in 1866, his widow Urania continued to occupy the original president’s house on campus for most of the time until her own death some two decades later.

During the time period covered by Mrs. Perkins’ letters, the south half of the building was occupied by Frank Sargent Hoffman, Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy, while the north half belonged to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. Far from objecting to the presence of a fraternity in his house, Professor Hoffman had actually been the one who invited them, being himself a member of the society. Mrs. Perkins writes of her son-in-law, whose fraternal loyalties were elsewhere, “Jack dined at Hoffman’s and had heavy glass tumblers with Phi Gamma Delta blown on them, which he says destroyed his appetite (November 12, 1899).

Professor Hoffman lived in this building, also known as “The Potter house” and “Fuller Hall,” with his first wife Jessie B. Lathrop until her death in 1893. He remarried in 1900 and remained in the house with his second wife Rebecca Russell Lowell and their family until a fire gutted the house in 1918, killing Hoffman’s grandson and a nursemaid. The house was rebuilt after this tragedy, losing its distinctive mansard roof but gaining a new identity as the central College Administration Building, now named Feigenbaum Hall after brothers Armand V. and Donald S. Feigenbaum, graduates and benefactors of Union College.