This Week in Princeton History for December 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, construction of the Halstead Observatory is underway, Gloria Steinem urges Princetonians to do something outrageous daily, and more.

December 3, 1867—The New York Tribune reports that Princeton’s Halsted Observatory is almost ready to have the telescope mounted. When mounted, it will be the largest telescope in the United States.

Halstead Observatory, ca. 1860s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8669.

Continue reading

A Brief History of the Architecture of Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall first opened its doors on November 28, 1756. The College of New Jersey (Princeton) at that time consisted of its president, Aaron Burr, 70 students, and three tutors. Robert Smith, the carpenter-architect who would later construct Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, designed Nassau Hall with the assistance of Dr. William Shippen of Philadelphia and William Worth, a local stonemason. Construction began on July 29, 1754 on part of the 4.5 acres donated by Nathaniel and Rebeckah FitzRandolph. Smith designed the building to withstand the variable climate of New Jersey in the Georgian-Colonial style popular at the time, choosing locally quarried sandstone as building material for the 26-inch thick walls. The building has three floors and a basement, measuring 176 feet by 54 feet, with a two-story central prayer hall in the rear of the structure, measuring 32 by 40 feet. Originally, there were five entrances to the building, three in the front and two in the rear. The rooftop cupola provided an elegant final touch to a modestly constructed building. When finished in 1756, Nassau Hall was the largest stone structure in North America.

1760_New_American_Magazine_AC177_Box_1

First known image of Nassau Hall, New American Magazine, 1760. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first charter is issued for the College of New Jersey, the first mid-semester fall break occurs, and more.

For the week of October 20-26:

October 20, 2000—A ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the official dedication of Frist Campus Center.

Frist_Center_Dedication_2000_AC168_Box_197

Frist Center Dedication, October 20, 2000, Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 197.

October 21, 1970—For the first time, Princeton takes a mid-semester break from classes during the fall. This two-week “Election Break” is meant to allow students more time to engage in activism in the weeks leading up to national elections.

October 22, 1913—Ceremonies mark the formal dedication of the brand new Graduate College (now Old Graduate College).

Grad_Coll._Historical_Postcards_AC045_Box_1

Graduate College, Historical Postcards Collection (AC045), Box 1. This collection has been digitized and is viewable here.

October 23, 1746—The first charter of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) is issued. Its guarantee of equal access to any person regardless of religion distinguishes it from its peer institutions. Although the original charter has been lost long ago, Princeton does retain the second charter, issued in 1748. It is rarely removed from our vaults, but you may view video of University Archivist Dan Linke showing it to Mudd Library visitors here.

First Charter in Board of Trustees Minutes

Charter of the College of New Jersey, in Board of Trustees Minutes, Vol. 1. (Board of Trustees Records (AC120)). The first 8 volumes of the Board of Trustees Minutes have been digitized and are viewable here.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

Fact Check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

This Week in Princeton History for September 22-28

For last week’s installment in our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its students and alumni, click here.

George Washington attends Commencement, Dr. Patch Adams speaks in McCosh 50, and more.

September 23, 1946—A record-breaking 2,350 people attend the University’s bicentennial Convocation in the Chapel, with a sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

September 24, 1783—College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) Class of 1783 Valedictorian and future College President Ashbel Green gives an address to a Commencement audience that includes George Washington and the Continental Congress.

Ashbel Green

Portrait of Ashbel Green by an unknown artist.

September 25, 2002—The doctor made famous by Robin Williams’ portrayal of him in the eponymous Patch Adams speaks to a packed audience in McCosh 50.

Patch Adams in McCosh 50 2002

Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams addresses the crowd in McCosh 50. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

September 26, 1929—Frick Laboratory (Chemistry) opens. After housing the Chemistry department for 81 years, it will be renamed 20 Washington Road in 2010, when the new Frick Lab is opened.  (Click to view photos of the old Frick Lab under construction and the newly completed building in 1929. An interior view is available here.)

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

“Princeton: America’s Campus” Lecture with Barksdale Maynard

The author of “Princeton: America’s Campus” will host a discussion with The New Jersey Historical Commission later this month. The book, by Barksdale Maynard, Princeton Class of 1988, features many photographs from the Historical Photograph Collection housed here at the University Archives at Mudd Manuscript Library.

His most recent book “Princeton: America’s Campus” is the second book Maynard wrote on a Princeton topic and his third on architecture.

Founded in 1746, Princeton is America’s fourth-oldest university and one of the most beautiful places in the country. Its secrets are revealed in Barksdale Maynard’s new, landmark publication, Princeton: America’s Campus, the first book ever to deal exclusively with the architectural history of the university. The author of five prize-winning books, including the acclaimed Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency, Barksdale Maynard has uncovered surprising new information about Princeton’s centuries-old campus along with hundreds of historic photographs never reproduced before. (From the book jacket.)

The discussion will be hosted at Drumthwacket, the former estate of the prominent Princeton University alumnus and benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne, Class of 1877–and now the official residence of the Governor–for the the launch of the Historical Commission’s series “New in New Jersey.”

Drumthwacket • Sunday, September 30, 2012 — 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Make your reservations now! Register Here.