Lower Campus

Queen's lower campus has the largest remaining green space on Queen's main campus. It runs from University Avenue to Arch Street south of Kingston Hall, Theological Hall, and Summerhill. It consists of a full-sized playing field, Nixon Field (formerly known as Kingston Field); two public tennis courts; an area of small, grassy hills; and Founders' Row, the tree-lined road that curves from Stuart Street up to Theological Hall.

Near Summerhill, there is a stone and wrought-iron gate leading into the area, donated by the Arts class of 1910. Until the late 1960s, this gate was located near the west end of Kingston Hall.

Just west of the tennis courts is a large steel sculpture shaped like a picture frame. Called "Ground Outline," it was created by the Peterborough artist Peter Kolisnyk in 1978 and purchased by Queen's in 1981.

After the Second World War, Queen’s began to reach the limits of physical growth. When the college acquired Summerhill as its first permanent building in the 1850s, its campus was on the margin of Kingston, practically in the countryside. By 1960, new academic buildings, playing fields and residences had eaten up much of Queen’s original 25-acre site, a site now surrounded by the much-expanded City of Kingston. Two green spaces – the restful Lower Campus to the south of Kingston Hall and the six-acre spread of Leonard Field to the west along Queen’s Crescent – remained green islands in an increasingly crowded campus.

In the mid-1950s, the trustees began discussing where Queen’s might find room to expand. As enrolment grew and academic disciplines matured, the pressure for more beds and new classrooms became intense. Physics provided a salient example of that pressure: after Russia’s launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957, the West realized that mastery of physics was intimately linked to national prowess in the Cold War. Yet, Queen’s physics department laboured in the antiquated confines of Ontario Hall. New laboratories and larger lecture halls were the order of the day. In June 1961, Montreal architects advised the trustees that the only feasible location for a modern physics building was the on Kingston Field in the Lower Campus area.

Harsh condemnations of the decision by alumni, students, staff, and faculty - including Professor A. Lower. The trustees, urged on by Principal Mackintosh, backed off. But shortly after, a local real estate agent, Graham Thomson, stepped forward to offer the university five building lots between Stuart Street and Queen’s Crescent (now Bader Lane). The trustees quickly made the purchase.



Three years later, Montreal architects Marshall and Merrett delivered a strikingly modern new physics building. Named for Queen’s chancellor John Stirling, a Queen’s-trained construction mogul, Stirling Hall broke the norm of campus architecture: it was circular, used only a minimum of limestone and much glass and aluminum. Meanwhile a block away, the Lower Campus remained a grassy oasis in the middle of a growing campus.