In 1971 biology, chemistry, and physics migrate from Retford to a new science building, the gift of Palin and Helen Spruance and their daughter, Mary Spruance Alden. (In the two decades prior to their gift, six of the Spruances’ grandchildren, including five children of Mary’s, graduate from George School.) Their choice of an object for their philanthropy is influenced by Palin’s life work in the chemical industry. In addition, several individual rooms are endowed by other friends of the school, with named rooms honoring Norman Swayne (1909–1951) and William Burton (1939–1973).
The center creates the first major change to science classrooms since Retford is built in 1906, and it provides modernized science facilities that meet the needs of a doubled enrollment. The space left free in Retford permits the painting and drawing studio to migrate from Hallowell, where it had been cheek by jowl with ceramics, a move that benefits both arts. Spruance-Alden quickly becomes a settled feature of the campus, joining Retford and Bancroft as stages for playing out the routines of the academic day.
The site chosen abuts the baseball field, placing the building where a long ball by a right-handed batter could fracture a window. Batters keep trying, but it still hasn’t happened.
In the hallway of the lower level is a large mural of an undersea scene, featuring sea turtles.