In the early years of the 20th Century, the Carr family--through Unitarian connections--contracted the services of H. Langford Warren, founder of Harvard University's Architecture School, to draw plans for several buildings at Proctor, including Gannett House, the Stone Chapel, and a magnificent girls' dormitory situated across North street from Mary Lowell Stone House and Gulick. Named for a prominent Unitarian minister, Cary House housed thirty-four students.
Eventually, a kitchen and dining hall were added to the south side, enabling the school to grow in student population. The building featured four faculty apartments, the school laundry and ski rooms.
The front steps, now known as "the stairs to nowhere," created a setting for commencement exercises and other formal ceremonies.
Below, Lyle Farrell poses with a tennis team on the Cary house steps.
Thirty-eight years ago this evening, on April 11, 1977, Cary House was destroyed by fire as the entire school community stood and watched.
At the time, the loss of Cary House seemed too much to endure. Could the school go on?
Ironically, with hindsight, the Cary House fire was probably a blessing, for it enabled the school to decentralize its campus and commit to small dormitories (Summerfield, Johnson and Davis were built the next year); what became Canon Dining Hall enabled the school to grow by 100 students, bringing great additional tuition revenue, and the fire--broadcast on television stations throughout the East--stimulated the alumni population and annual giving in support of the school. The people of the Town of Andover opened their homes to Proctor students. Colby Sawyer College catered meals in the fieldhouse, and Proctor looked ahead to better days. Below, students pass over the foundation of Cary House (still buried!) on their way to this morning's assembly.
Architectural renderings by Boston's Warren and Smith Architects drawn up in 1906.