Building on History: Lippitt Hall

Lippitt Hall has a history of over 125 years at the University of Rhode Island, starting with its construction in 1897.

According to the history timeline on the URI website , Army Captain Wiliam Wallace Wotherspoon oversaw the construction of Lippitt, which was built with locally quarried granite. Wotherspoon was the first professor of military science at URI and designated Lippitt as the college’s armory and drill hall.

Wotherspoon was later transferred to fight in the Spanish American war, ending his time at URI. He was advanced to the rank of Major General in 1912, and was further promoted in 1914 to Army Chief of Staff. Wotherspoon’s military science program has turned into what is now the ROTC program.

Lippitt, named after the governor Charles L. Lippitt, was a popular place for social gatherings and housed the first Sophomore Hop dance. This became a yearly tradition in the early years of the college starting in 1907, according to the history timeline.

A gala was also held in Lippit in 1951 to celebrate the college officially being named the University of Rhode Island, and is detailed in a history of the building on the URI quadrangle .

In addition to being used as the armory, drill hall and social hall, Lippitt was also used as a chapel until a renovation that happened in 1935. An article on the URI website states that after the renovation, Lippitt was converted into a cafeteria style dining hall and a soda bar was installed in the basement. During this time, the headquarters of dining services was also housed in Lippitt, until 1993 when the new facility was constructed on plains road.

The building underwent another renovation in 2008. The $8.9 million project updated all of the technology in the building and put new teaching tools in the lecture hall and classrooms. All of the rooms were also repainted in their original colors, and a new roof was put on the building.

The renovation was done to improve student’s experience in Lippitt and to give the math and honors students access to cutting edge technology.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to reopen Lippitt on Oct. 8, 2008.

An article on the URI website that details the reopening states that the project was funded by a $5 million general obligation bond, as well as a $3.8 million state appropriation. A $5.6 million state grant titled New-Order, Multimodal, Advance-Designed Learning Spaces was also used to fund the renovation.

Lippitt Hall is currently the home of URI’s honors program and math department. The honors program occupies the top two floors with the math department below.

Other departments and programs that have been housed there include the engineering department, the administrative computer center, management information services and the department of natural and resource economics.

Lippitt Hall has a rich history on the URI campus, and hopefully students and faculty will be enjoying the historic building for another 100 years to come.