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How Did the Campus Pond Get its Name?


Paradise Pond, Smith College

Was it Jenny Lind, the 19th-century world-renowned opera singer called the “Swedish Nightingale,” who originally gave “Paradise Pond” its famous name?

In 1851, when Lind first laid eyes on Northampton during a concert tour and came upon the lake that now flanks the northeast edge of the Smith College campus, she “endowed” it with the moniker “Paradise Pond.” That account was chronicled in the Springfield Sunday Republican January 26, 1958, in an article recalling her visit more than a century earlier.

The naming took place a full 20 years before Smith was founded. But a Smith College News Office press release from 1952 lends further credibility to the story. It reads: “Paradise Pond, in the center of the Smith College campus, was named by Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish singer, on one of her many visits to Northampton.”


Jenny Lind (1820-1887)

Jenny Lind’s 1851 visit to Northampton was so celebrated that her concert at the village’s Old First Church drew more than 1,800 spectators by train and carriage from as far away as Brattleboro, Vermont -- a long 40-mile haul in those days.

Lind was so enthralled with Northampton that she soon returned for her honeymoon and resided at the Round Hill Hotel, across Elm Street from the future Smith campus, performing again at Northampton’s newly constructed City Hall on Main Street.

“This must be the paradise of America,” she famously proclaimed during her stay.

A lot has changed since Jenny Lind visited Northampton and strolled the grounds that would become Smith College. But her legacy remains in the “Paradise” moniker that she purportedly gave the city and the campus pond.

Her legacy continues to be celebrated with occasional local concerts honoring her musical contributions. On Sunday, July 2, the Academy of Music will team with The Barnum Festival, Inc. in presenting the 58th Annual Jenny Lind Concert. The concert, at 4 p.m. at the Academy of Music, features performances by the winners of an international competition in Jenny Lind’s name.

-EW

6/22/06
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