Eaton, Amos

Eaton, Amos

Eaton, Amos, 1776-1842, American naturalist, b. Chatham, N.Y., grad. Williams College, 1799. After practicing law for a time, he conducted pioneer geological surveys in Albany and Rensselaer counties, N.Y. (1820-21), and along the Erie Canal (1822-23). His report on the canal was published in 1824. He then became professor at the scientific school opened by Stephen Van Rensselaer (1824) in Troy, N.Y. (now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). Besides a number of textbooks, he wrote the Manual of Botany (1817; 8th ed., with John Wright, North American Botany, 1840) and An Index to the Geology of the Northern States (1818).

See biography by E. M. McAllister (1941).

Amos Eaton Hall is the current home of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. It is named for Amos Eaton, the co-founder and first senior professor of Rensselaer. Amos Eaton Hall is the only building on the campus referred to by both first and last name. The building opened in 1928.


In 1926, the Board of Trustees recognized the need for a larger library and assembly hall. The proposed building to house these facilities was to be named in memory of Amos Eaton, the co-founder and first senior professor at Rensselaer. The existing library had outgrown its home in the Pittsburgh Building. The new library was designed to accommodate 160,000 volumes and 240 readers. The new assembly hall was designed to accommodate 1400 people, approximately the size of the student body at the time.

Amos Eaton Hall, in Colonial Revival style, was designed by Lawler & Haase of New York who had previously designed the '87 Gymnasium in 1911. The actual costs of the building are unknown, as it was contracted together with the Caldwell dormitory in the Quadrangle, but it has been estimated at $300,000.

In 1960, the library was moved to the former St. Joseph's Chapel, where it remained until the Folsom Library was built. The chapel then became the Voorhees Computing Center. The auditorium space was converted into lab, classroom, and office space. In 1965 the interior of the building was remodeled. It currently houses the Department of Mathematical Sciences and includes some offices of the Department of Computer Science


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