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West College, as everyone knows is the oldest building on campus. What most people don't know that it was actually built by Ephraim Williams himself and small band of settlers in the year 1529. While most of the white men in the world at the time still thought North America was really India, he bravely sailed the Atlantic and wandered through the northeaster forests until he found an ideal valley for his planned Utopian society.
The building was built by hand. The construction consists mostly of bricks made by a more industrious tribe in an extensive system of quarries and kilns scattered throughout the area. with labor contracted out to various native tribes, with care taken that no one tribe did too much work and therefore gleaned the secret inner workings of what would become Ephraim's Castle. Designed as a settlement, capitol and fortress to allow the settlers and their descendants, heavily inter-bred with the local native populations to retreat to in times of emergency, as well as weather out the winters which would later pose such a problem for the founders of Amherst.
Of the Utopian society founded by Ephraim, little is really known apart from wild tales too strange for this impersonal media. However, it can be safely said that the society was self-sufficient, mostly harmonious and endured in the vision of Ephraim for many generations.
Things turned for the worse in 1605 when an immigrant, Jebediah Smith, from the recent settlements along the coasts. He entered the commune of Williams as a refugee, but within a few years had risen to a fairly powerful position in the informal council. From there he used all the influence he could muster to have his rivals embarassed or ostracized. He then began to implement his polygamous, totalitarian regime, renaming the valley to the Kingdom of Williamstown and instated himself as King for life. The other settlers and Indian citizens all initially were supportive, being sick of commune style leadership as well as attracted by the proposition of having lots of wives. (One of the first acts of King Jeb was to revoke the right of women to express their views in public). This system lasted for roughly 85 years, with King Jeb being succeeded by His 15th son Walkswithlimp, (the only one worthy of taking over, in the eyes of King Jeb). However, the reign of the Smith line came abruptly to an end in 1690 when a friendly alliance led by the Iroquois nation responded to abuses of human rights and invaded the Kingdom, killing all members of the royal family, and giving all other settlers the choice of becoming Iroquois or returning to the coastal settlements.
The building of West College remained standing, largely untouched by the settlers prospering and moving into the valley from the newly founded North Adams. At this time the building was named Fort Massachusetts and used to station a detachment of the militia. This detachment's second commander was a descendant of the original Ephraim Williams, also named Ephraim Williams.
En route with his regiment of Massachusetts militia to join the battle with the French and Indians at Lake George, the Colonel Ephraim had tarried long enough in Albany to write his last will and testament on July 22, 1755. In it he bequeathed his residuary estate, the Fort Massachusetts, for the founding and support of a free school in West Township, under the condition that the name of his ancestor Williams be reinstated.
On September 8, 1755, Colonel Williams was killed at the Battle of Lake George. On October 26, 1791, after many delays, fifteen scholars were admitted to the free school in Williamstown. Even with an existing building, the College, as is typical, took a long time to get things going.
The rest, as they say, is history. West College went from dorm, chapel, classrooms and offices, to fewer dorms, to no chapel, to no offices, etc. to arrive at the current but by no means final state of affairs (see above).