A Permanent Campus in Haverhill
September 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Northern Essex Community College’s permanent home at Kenoza Lake. Below is a brief history of how the campus began with photographs and artifacts. For a more detailed account of the process for creating a permanent campus in Haverhill, please refer to “A History of Northern Essex Community College, 1960-1985” by John Spurk.
The beginnings of a permanent campus in Haverhill were spurred by the hopes of taking advantage of a federal assistance program The Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, under which 40 percent of the new campus costs would be provided by the Federal Government.
Three potential sites were viewed by the search committee, but Hunkin’s Hill, adjacent to Kenoza Lake, and right off Interstate 495, was selected as the ideal location.
The campus decision was announced in the Haverhill Gazette in December 1963. The City of Haverhill offered the 110 acres of land, which it would sell to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a college for the price of $1.
Edward J. Tedesco Associates were selected as the main architects. The campus was designed for 1,600 students, with a target opening date of September 1967.
Although construction began earlier, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 3, 1967, and included Governor Volpe, President Bentley, Mayor Chase, Senator Rurak, and H. Louis Farmer. With members of the Members of the Regional Advisory Board, the legislature, the MBRCC, and the local community also present.
Many delays in construction, planning and funding occurred over the course of the campus creation, however with swelling enrollment in the early 1970’s, the campus would be open for the Fall 1971 semester.
The campus officially opened on September 17, 1971.
The first buildings open were the gym, the science building, the applied science building and the classroom building. The library exterior was finished but would not be fully occupied until November 1971. The Maintenance Building was completed in 1972 and College Center opened in 1973. Improved parking areas and accessibility upgrades throughout campus were added in the 1970’s.
Northern Essex’s permanent home in Haverhill continued to grow and evolve with the addition of the Technology Center in 2005, dedicated as the Hartleb Technology Center in 2011. Major renovations and upgrades of the Behrakis Student Center in 2005 and the Spurk Building in 2017 occurred, along with the establishment of a permanent space in neighboring Lawrence.