1876 drawing of campus by Professor George Gladwin

Artist, Historian, and Teacher: Professor George Gladwin

For more than 28 years, beginning with the Institute’s founding, creating a sudden, loud disturbance in drawing class was a favored prank of WPI students. Their victim, Professor George Gladwin, would react with theatrical terror against the latest “attempt on my life” in the classroom before returning to remind his disciples to converge their lines and observe the beauty in all things.

Gladwin was one of WPI’s inaugural faculty, hired due to his success as an artist and instructor in Worcester. Educated in his native Connecticut and abroad in London, Gladwin was a successful artist with a studio on Worcester’s Main Street. His courses were among the most popular during the Institute’s early days, necessitating additional course offerings taught with assistance from professors Milton Higgins and George Alden. He would also teach drawing courses for WPI in Hartford and Norwich, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Fitchburg, Mass.

George Gladwin

Professor George Gladwin

Always enamored with the beauty of objects he passed each day, Gladwin painted many watercolors of campus buildings, class trees, and landscapes. As secretary of the faculty, he also produced a series of scrapbooks that today are among the most insightful resources that document life on campus during that first quarter century at WPI.

When he passed away in 1920, “Gladdy” was affectionally remembered as a beloved instructor and welcome presence at WPI reunions long after his retirement. His art is on rotating exhibition in the WPI Archives’ Fellman Dickens Reading Room. The library gallery named for him hosts annual exhibitions that highlight WPI’s history, culture, and academics.

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