These days, we know winter is on its way as Bean Boots begin to litter dorm hallways. Two hundred years ago, you could literally smell winter coming from a mile away.
One image not commonly seen on the Bowdoin campus now is that of the warm, cozy fire on a cold winter's night. This almost quintessential piece of winter was a part of daily life for students in Bowdoin's first residences.
Fireplaces had a long, successful run on campus; in fact, the College did not have central heating systems until around 1919 or 1920, according to Secretary of Development and College Relations John Cross.
While Bowdoin's residences no longer have such facilities in each dorm and apartment, there about eight to 10 functioning fireplaces on the Bowdoin campus, according to Fisher, including one in both Reed House and the Russwurm African American Center house.
Though these fireplaces are working and available, students must submit a work order online through Facilities if they want to utilize them. Students cannot use other fireplaces that are currently not modernized and thus unsafe for use.
"You put a work order in for [starting a fire] like you would for anything else," said Fisher.
Back in the day, each dorm room had its own fireplace and evidence of this has been architecturally preserved on the outsides of buildings such as Maine Hall, whose chimneys are still visible.
The old chimneys are now used as part of the heating system and for structural means, said Manager of Environmental Health and Safety Mark Fisher.
Moreover, Cross explained that fireplaces were such an integral part of residential life at Bowdoin that the cost of wood was included in each student's board bill. In an effort to avoid additional wood costs during the cold winters, students would often use wooden desks and chairs to maintain their fires.
Several events are responsible for this change in the number of fireplaces.
"There were a couple of fires...Maine Hall burnt twice...They built it to look entirely different after the 1836 fire," said Cross.
Architecturally, many changes were made to campus buildings after the Maine Hall fire in the mid-1800s. According to Cross, the dorms were referred to as "the Ends" due to the double fire-proof walls that separated the two halves of the buildings.
"You had to walk outside to get to the other end of the hall," he said. This helped to ensure that if there were a fire in one half of the building, the other part would not be as damaged.
Beyond this, the structure of Bowdoin housing was beginning to change.
By 1900, Bowdoin started seeing some of its first chapter houses open, Cross explained. Responsible for hiring and paying their own house chefs, the chapter houses had other bits of more individualized home life in their residences, including fireplaces.
After World War II and the passage of the GI Bill, Bowdoin's class size and makeup drastically changed.
Furthermore, with the admittance of women in the class of 1975, and the rule that fraternities had to admit women, it was obvious that the Bowdoin community was changing.
The first female transfer students lived in what is now Burnett House, for example, but later they moved into fraternities and on to single sex floors in coed buildings until the floors eventually became all coed.
"[The change] was incremental," said Cross.
To keep up with the times, all of these changes culminated in a "new model of residential life," introduced in the early 1990s, which worked towards making the Bowdoin campus more residential and central for all students.
Amid these changes, many once-active fireplaces fell out of use.