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Snapshots of a bygone Yale

In order to build its two new residential colleges—a project that just got $250 million closer to fruition—Yale has demolished a whole block of buildings of various pedigrees, from nineteenth-century houses to a beloved metallurgy lab–cum–sculpture building. Only one building, Seeley Mudd Library, still stands on the site, and despite calls for keeping the building as part of the new colleges, it will soon meet the wrecking ball.

But such has always been the way of Yale. Not many people realize that most of those ancient-seeming Gothic buildings are younger than some humans who still walk the earth, and that a generation or two of earlier Yale buildings came before them, including a whole row of Connecticut Halls on the Old Campus and an assortment of short-lived Victorian piles.

To take just one block as an example, here are pictures of the Yale-related buildings that were torn down from the 1910s to the 1930s to build the Memorial Quadrangle (which later was converted into Branford and Saybrook Colleges) and Jonathan Edwards College. In a 1929 book called The Memorial Quadrangle, English professor and longtime JE master Robert Dudley French assured us that the block "held little that had any historical value and nothing, certainly, that was worth preserving for its beauty." But we'll let you be the judge.


Filed under Preservation
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