Stephens Memorial Observatory

Stephens Memorial Observatory
6750 Twinsburg-Warren Rd., Hiram, Ohio

Hiram College
P.O. Box 67
Hiram, OH 44234


Photo: Cooley Telescope

Cooley Telescope of under its original 1900 dome. Photo by James Guilford

Lathrop Cooley donated a top-drawer telescope to Hiram College which was installed in the tower of the school’s Teachout Library in 1901. In 1939 a fire in the library seriously damaged the building but the magnificent instrument narrowly escaped destruction, only soiled by the smoke. It was removed from the tower to be installed in a new facility. Stephens Memorial Observatory, the gift of Miss Ella Stephens of Cleveland in memory of her parents and brother, was dedicated in 1939.

Today the small observatory still houses the telescope with a 9-inch John Brashear objective and a Warner and Swasey weight-driven mechanical drive. The dome sheltering the telescope is the original structure that sat atop Teachout Library and Observatory more than a century ago. In 2006 – 2007 the objective lens, finder telescope, and clock drive were removed, restored, and re-installed making the telescope fully operational and a pleasure to behold.

In the spring of 2022, the state of the observatory was evaluated by college officials and was determined to be too expensive to repair and update. The dome’s shutter, which is opened and closed to allow use of the telescope, was among the items requiring extensive work and was not opened for fear of not being able to close it against the elements. No programming was scheduled as Hiram College determined the future  of Stephens.

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