Nott Memorial – Schenectady, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Nott Memorial

Schenectady, New York

This elaborate High Victorian Gothic structure is one of the world's few 16-sided buildings. 


The Nott Memorial is the centerpiece of Union College, the second oldest college in New York State. Construction began on the 16-sided memorial in 1858 and was completed in 1879. The building was dedicated to Eliphalet Nott who served as Union’s president for 62 years, from 1804-1866. It was designed by Nott’s grandson Edward Tuckerman Potter.

The interior of the Nott is entirely open, with views from the ground floor straight up to the vaulted dome ceiling dotted with over 700 small colored-glass windows. Elaborate tiled floors cover the ground level and stained glass windows stretch up four-stories around all 16 sides. The memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The building fell into disrepair in the latter part of the 20th-century and there were rumors of it facing demolition. Thankfully, the college preserved this historic landmark and mounted a full restoration effort that was completed in 1995. 

Today, the Nott is used as a quiet study area for students, a place for campus events, and is home to the Mandeville Gallery, which mounts exhibitions on the building’s second floor.

Know Before You Go

If not a student, best to call ahead to see if the interior is open to outside visitors. 

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August 18, 2021

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