His experience at Penikese was, however, by no means in vain, for it deeply impressed him with the advisability of establishing a summer school for research in marine zoology, so that in 1877 he built upon his place at Castle Hill at the mouth of Newport Harbor an ideal little research laboratory which afforded excellent accommodations for half a dozen students at a time. For eighteen years students and instructors from Harvard College visited this charming spot, and many are the papers which resulted from their labors there. Count Pourtalès, W. K. Brooks, Fewkes and Whitman were the first workers in the station, and each year about ten of the most promising of the research students in zoology at Harvard were privileged to study at the Newport Laboratory. Every day a stage bore them from the town, four miles away, to the laboratory and back again at five o'clock in the afternoon, after the daily swim in the ocean. The laboratory was excellently equipped with reagents, glassware and large tanks provided with running salt or fresh water. The microscope tables were set upon stone foundations to avoid vibration, and a good little steam launch lay at her moorings in a near cove ready to dredge in the service of science. I treasure the memory of those youthful days at Newport when the enthusiastic spirit of our great leader was an inspiration to each and every one of us, and I recall his delight over the rare "finds" we occasionally discovered in the surface tow which was made every night and lay awaiting our study in the morning. Gradually, however, a change came over the Newport Laboratory, the once pure water of the harbor became more and more polluted as population and shipping increased until finally in 1897 students were no longer invited to come to Newport, and the scientific existence of the laboratory ceased. An account of the laboratory together with a plan of the building will be found in Nature,volume 19, pp. 317-319, 1879, and in the Century Magazine for September, 1883, but these fail to give an idea of the attractive little vine-clad building nestled down on the slope of the shore overlooking its little cove with the beautiful bay to the northward and the ocean on the south.
Alexander Agassiz was the first to see that the southern shore of New England was most favorably placed for the site of such a station, for he discovered that here arctic forms are carried down during the winter and early spring, whereas late in summer the southerly winds bring drifting upward from the Gulf Stream animals whose true homes are in the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic, and thus one meets with an extraordinary seasonal variation of marine life on the southern coast of New England.
In 1874 Alexander Agassiz was elected curator of the museum to succeed his father in this responsible position, and indeed the prospects of the museum were at that time such as to inspire grave apprehension,