Wentworth Institute of Technology

Over a century of hands-on learning and innovation

April 5, 1904, one year after the death of it’s founder, Arioch Wentworth, Wentworth Institute would be chartered as a school for the “mechanical arts.” Located at the intersection of the Fenway, Mission Hill, and Roxbury neighborhoods, this hands-on learning environment stays true to its founding after a century of innovation and change. In Mr. Wentworth’s last will and testament, he left what remained to create Wentworth Institute. However, his daughter would contest this will. A long, drawn out legal battle ensued until Christmas Eve 1903, when a settlement was reached. The bulk of the estate would be split 50-50 between Arioch Wentworth’s daughter and the Trustees of Wentworth Institute. Following this settlement, the Trustees set out to charter the Institute with the Commonwealth, purchase the land, and find its first leaders and faculty. Arthur Lyman Williston accepted the position as the first Director of Wentworth Institute. He left his job as Head of the School of Science and Technology of Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, NY. Mr. Williston made sure that every aspect of the new building would go toward the education of specific sciences and trades. As the trustees began to formulate their curriculum, they decided to target their school toward “serious-minded boys” between the ages of 16-19. In the early days, students could only enter and exit from the main entrance, which passed right by the front office. If a student were to come in late, it would be corrected on the spot. There was a purpose to every inch of Wentworth’s architecture. Wentworth opened its doors to the first 244 students on September 25, 1911. After a few years of helping students learn and secure jobs, an opportunity came knocking that Mr. Williston and the Institute could not refuse. The United States had just entered World War I, and on May 3, 1917 Colonel F.L. Joy of the First Corps of Cadets asked if he could pitch the idea of joining the New England Guard to Wentworth students, but Mr. Williston came up with a different idea. The cadets would attend night classes and train in the “mechanical arts.” Seventy-two hours following this meeting, cadets were marching towards campus ready to learn new skills that would help them to stand out. These students and Wentworth were recognized by the War Department, and Wentworth gained the nickname “Camp Wentworth.” This program gained new life during WWII as Wentworth was used by the Navy. Following the both World Wars, the U.S. military continued to rely heavily on Wentworth, awarding Wentworth 177 projects for the Air Force between 1950 and 1953. In 1953, Pratt Institute would lose another esteemed member to Wentworth – Mr. H. Russell Beatty, who became the first President of the Institute. Under President Beatty’s guidance, Wentworth would develop its first Associate’s Degree in 1956, and in 1957 almost three hundred men would be awarded with an Associate’s degree. From 1963 to 1979, Wentworth would have one of the only Nuclear Engineering Programs in the country. In 1972, the first women would be admitted to the school, since then the female population would steadily rise to almost eighteen percent, today. 1975, the Institute would create its first four-year program and develop the crown jewel of the Institute: The Co-op experience. In the years that followed, Wentworth has continued to expand. The Ira Allen and Annex buildings would be bought for $1 each and transformed into new classrooms, labs and studio spaces for students. Today, Wentworth continues this tradition of hands-on learning, and has expanded its programs to include a variety of engineering, architecture, design, and applied sciences majors

Images

A banner hangs on Wentworth Hall celebrating 40 years of the co-op experience at Wentworth

A banner hangs on Wentworth Hall celebrating 40 years of the co-op experience at Wentworth

Creator: Tyler La Fronz View File Details Page

US Navy Men are shown in a Laboratory on Wentworth's campus during World War II

US Navy Men are shown in a Laboratory on Wentworth's campus during World War II

Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

Cadets during World War I, shown in Wentworth's front lawn

Cadets during World War I, shown in Wentworth's front lawn

Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

An advertising put out by the Institute for postwar Veterans and Civilians.

An advertising put out by the Institute for postwar Veterans and Civilians.

In 1944 the GI Bill was passed allowing more young men to return to school. During this time Wentworth transitioned it's classrooms & labs back to fulfilling their original course load. | Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

Student Tickets

Student Tickets

When Wentworth Institute first opened, students would go and pay for their semester of classes. After they had paid, they would be given one of these cards as proof. Tuition = $6.00 Laboratory Fees = $3.00 Student Total Fees = $9.00/semester | Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

World War I cadets shown training on campus near where the Nelson Recreation Center is today

World War I cadets shown training on campus near where the Nelson Recreation Center is today

Source: Wentworth Institute of Technology Archives View File Details Page

Wilson Hall

Wilson Hall

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Back of Wentworth Hall from the Quad.

Back of Wentworth Hall from the Quad.

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Ira Allen and Annex Buildings

Ira Allen and Annex Buildings

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Annex Building

Annex Building

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Watson Hall

Watson Hall

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Wentworth Sign on the front of Beatty Hall

Wentworth Sign on the front of Beatty Hall

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

View of Beatty Hall and the Quad

View of Beatty Hall and the Quad

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Williston Hall from West Lot

Williston Hall from West Lot

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

525 Huntington Ave Apartments

525 Huntington Ave Apartments

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

High-Tech Highway in the basement of Wentworth Hall

High-Tech Highway in the basement of Wentworth Hall

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Manufacturing Center in the ground floor of Williston Hall

Manufacturing Center in the ground floor of Williston Hall

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Entrance to Rubenstein Hall from West Lot & Campus Map

Entrance to Rubenstein Hall from West Lot & Campus Map

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

View of West Lot & Adjacent Buildings

View of West Lot & Adjacent Buildings

Source: Maya E. Bloom View File Details Page

Access Information:

The Campus is located near the MFA stop on the 'E' branch of the MBTA's Green Line or is a short walk from Ruggles Station on the Orange and commuter Lines.

Street Address:

Wentworth Institute of Technology
550 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115 [map]

Official Website:

https://www.wit.edu

Cite this Page:

Maya, Bloom, Tyler La Fronz, Eddie Silva, “Wentworth Institute of Technology,” Boston History, accessed December 18, 2017, http://explorebostonhistory.org/items/show/24.

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