Queen's main campus is located on roughly 100 acres of land on the southwestern edge of downtown Kingston. Its approximate boundaries are King Street in the south, Earl Street in the north, Collingwood Street in the west, and Barrie Street in the east.
University buildings, especially around the edges of the campus, are interspersed with private homes, shops, and hospital buildings. This mixture is an indication of the piecemeal way in which the campus has developed. Queen's first Trustees had intended to build the university on a self-contained, 50-acre site west of today's campus in the area of College Street. They could not, however, afford to build on that original property and sold it piece by piece.
Trustees turned to the present site in 1853 when they purchased Summerhill and its small holding of seven acres, then on the very edge of the city. Until the 1890s, all new buildings were constructed in the immediate area of Summerhill.
By the early 1900s, the campus had spread north to Union Street and west to University Avenue. By this time, the area was surrounded by blocks of private housing and, to expand, Queen's had to buy developed land and either renovate, demolish, or move the houses that were already there.
Expansion has generally followed this pattern ever since - often to the displeasure of local residents. In the 1920s, Queen's expanded to the north side of Union Street and the west side of University Avenue, buying the Students' Memorial Union (now the John Deutsch University Centre) and building Ban Righ Hall and Richardson Stadium.
It was not until the 1950s, however, that development in these areas really took off. Since then, many buildings have been constructed west of University Avenue or north of Union Street.
Today, University Avenue - once Queen's western boundary - is the university's central thoroughfare. Most of the original seven-acre holding has been developed, but the section in front of Summerhill, Kingston and Theological Halls has been spared as green space and is home to the Queen’s Arboretum, thanks in part to fierce protests about the proposed lower campus development in the 1960s.
The pace of growth has slowed since the 1960s, as the purchase of west campus relieved pressures for expansion, but there have been important developments, especially in the northwest part of the main campus. Richardson Stadium, for example, was torn down in 1971 and replaced by a new stadium on west campus.
In recent years there have been important additions, including the purchase of Victoria School and the construction of the Policy Studies Building (now named Robert Sutherland Hall) and Stauffer Library, all on Union Street west of University Avenue. Other new buildings include Chernoff Hall, Goodes Hall, Beamish-Munro Hall, the Queen’s Centre, and a new Medical School Building.
Plans for the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts are also underway.