Upperclassmen move in to Witherspoon Hall in September 1948. (Alan W. Richards/PAW Archives)
Princeton upperclassmen arriving back on campus in September 1948 found a couple of significant changes: Firestone Library was nearly complete, while the books at the old Pyne Library had been pulled from their shelves; and the swimming team finally had a new home at Dillon, after being pool-less for four years due to a fire that destroyed the gymnasium.
The U-Store, in the midst of a reorganization, had found dusty boxes of silk top hats and canes — relics that, according to PAW columnist William T. Barry III ’50, “drew curious eyes and eager buyers.” But students had more than costumes and frivolity on their minds. At class registration in Dillon Gym, a sign directed them to visit the balcony and register for Selective Service. “These signs reminded all the non-veterans that their college careers are liable to be interrupted by the draft before graduation,” Barry wrote.
Flying ace Elliott Springs, Class of 1917, with his wife, Frances. (PAW Archives)
Nearly a decade after earning fame as a World War I flying ace, Elliott Springs, Class of 1917, had transitioned to a new career as an author, editing the best-seller War Birds and writing a pair of other popular books. But, as Springs wrote in PAW, flying remained an integral part of his life. And even though he’d endured enemy gunfire, stalled engines, a leak that squirted hot oil into his face for hours, and a motor that vibrated so badly that it shook a filling from his tooth, he claimed to have “never made a flight that I did not enjoy.”
Springs, pictured above with his wife, Frances, headlined the Feb. 24, 1928, issue of PAW, which was devoted entirely to aviation — a hot topic in the winter following Charles Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic flight. Other authors in the magazine included F.B. Rentschler 1909, the president of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Co.; James L. Breese 1909, part of the U.S. Navy crew that made a trans-Atlantic flight (with stops) in 1919; and James S. McDonnell ’21, a young airplane designer who would go on to create McDonnell Aircraft.
The issue also featured an article called “A Vacation on Wings,” about summer training in the Naval Reserve’s air unit, written by Harvey Williamson ’27. Sadly, Williamson died six months later in a plane crash near his home in Duluth, Minn. The airfield there was re-named in his honor.
(J. Todd Faulkner ’70/PAW Archives)
Summers on campus are filled with the sounds of construction and renovation. This year’s projects include the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, a major refurbishment at 20 Washington Road (the former Frick chemistry lab), and numerous other improvements around campus.
In 1970, Witherspoon Hall was on the list of buildings in need of work. But PAW noted that the 93-year-old dorm might be on track for demolition: “State fire laws have forced the closing of the top three floors, and the [University] trustees have concluded that the cost of renovation ($2 million) just isn’t worth it.”
Fortunately, the report of Witherspoon’s demise was premature. Residents and alumni started a “Save ’Spoon” campaign in 1970, and in 1975, a series of renovations reconfigured the interior and added new stairwells to bring all floors up to code.
For the record
As Emily Trost ’13 notes, the photo identified as Witherspoon in the PAW Archives appears to show Dod Hall, another 19th-century addition to the Princeton campus, completed in 1890.
(PAW Archives, Feb. 26, 1960)
“There was once a day that the geological hammer, a pair of stout legs and a keen eye were all that a geologist really needed for his research,” professor Sheldon Judson ’40 wrote in the Feb. 26, 1960, issue of PAW. But by the 1960s, the mantra of “have hammer, will travel” had given way to a new set of instruments, including the seismic truck, right, used to measure the effects of experimental explosions, left.
Judson’s story traced the history of the geosciences at Princeton, beginning with the arrival of Professor Arnold Guyot in 1854, and did not give much attention to the accompanying photos from departmental field work. If any readers recall the seismic truck or can provide details about its research, please use the comment box below.
From 1958 to 1968, Princeton added an astonishing 2.7 million square feet of building space to the campus — increasing the physical plant by 70 percent in the most significant expansion in the University’s history, according to the 2008 Princeton Campus Plan. PAW showcased parts of the construction boom, as captured by photographer Robert Matthews, in a January 1967 photo essay titled “Aerial Princeton.”
Gifts from a $53 million capital campaign funded parts of the growing campus, and Cold War-era funding for scientific research played a prominent role as well. Click the images in the gallery below for a closer look at the additions, which included Robertson Hall, Jadwin Gymnasium, the E-Quad, and New South.
To make way for Robertson Hall, center, the University moved Corwin Hall, left, which previously occupied the corner of Washington and Prospect streets.
Jadwin Gymnasium, billed as a “cage for all seasons,” houses facilities for more than a dozen varsity teams.
The Engineering Quad, on the former site of University Field; Computer Science and the Friend Center now occupy the lot at right, used for parking in the 1960s.
Some dormitories from the 1960s expansion remain, including Wilcox, center, and its Wilson College neighbors. The Butler dorms, top left, were razed in 2007.
New South, built to house administrative offices, towered over the Dinky Station, left, and a score of tennis courts.
The base of Fine Hall tower marked the beginning of a southern expansion for science buildings. Palmer Stadium is partially visible at the top right.
(PAW Archives, Oct. 14, 1992)
Tricia Cortez ’96, left, and Leonard Marquez ’96 were among the Princeton freshmen who worked to rehabilitate homes in Trenton during the week before orientation in 1992. They were part of the University’s Urban Action initiative, now known as Community Action. Last year, the program drew 202 participants from the Class of 2017, and this fall, it expects an additional boost, thanks to the University’s increasing support for civic-engagement, highlighted in the July 9 issue of PAW.