A Little More Cornell History

10 11 2008

Photos obtained from the book “Cornell in Pictures: 1868-1954”, compiled by Charles V. P. Young 1899.


As mentioned previously, Sibley was constructed in three parts; the first, which is the West Wing of the current building, was built in 1870 and named for one of the original trustees of Cornell, Hiram Sibley. The East wind would be built in 1894,and the dome was constructed in 1902 [1]. Apart from stone Row, this was the first building that the University built that still stands today (the university did not build Cascadilla Hall).


A map of campus, circa 1954. Some of the notable differences

I. Kappa Alpha Society’s house was where Snee Hall stands today. The house was torn down to facilitate construction of Hollister Hall in 1957-58, so KA moved to South Avenue. The Old Armory, built in 1892, was also torn down.

II. The road that was Central Avenue up until the 1990s cut between Franklin (Tjaden) and Sibley. Morse Hall would be torn down within a year of this map’s publication to make room for a parking lot, which would then be replaced by the Johnson Museum of Art that began nearly two decades later.

III. Boardman Hall is still there…in terms of aesthetics, I wish it was still there today too.

IV. ILR was located in temporary buildings (quonsets) on the Engineering Quad (which still had yet to fully develop). Law Hall, Moore Lab and the other smaller buildings where the ILR school stands today were the vet school buildings. Schurman Hall would come on line five years later, which facilitated the demolition of Law Hall in 1959, and for the construction of Ives Hall and Catherwood Library, which would be completed in 1962.

V. The Johnny Parson Club. More on that later.

VI. Alpha Xi Delta’s House is where the Prospects of Whitby co-op is located today. AXiD closed in 1964 and would be off campus for 40 years. Even the house they live in today is still own by Delta Phi Epsilon sorority (which closed the year before Alpha Xi Delta was brought back to campus). Chi Omega lived in the light purple house with the red tile roof on Wait Avenue, and would move to Phillips House (Sigma Alpha Mu’s current house) when that building was built on Sisson Place in 1956.


A poor photo (my shaky hands, I regret) of the Statler Inn. Prior to the 150-room hotel built in 1986-87, the Statler Inn was the premier facility, with “modern classroom” and 36 rooms. Another hotel was located in the upper floors of Willard Straight Hall where the lofts are today, and those would play a prominent role in the takeover of Willard Straight in 1969.


Prior to the Maplewood Apartments, veterans attending Cornell post-WWII had the option of living with their families in “Vetsburg”, on Maple Avenue.


Back in the days before Day Hall, the lot was the site of a parking lot and the house of Professor Babcock, which was the first faculty house built on campus. Back in the day, it was common for houses to be on campus, where the Human Ecology school is today, where the Engineering Quad is today, and even on Central Campus. This was the last central campus house, and it was torn down to facilitate Day Hall’s construction (completed 1947) [2].


To save my breath, I’m going to quote a DUE from August 23, 2007:

“The Johnny Parson Club was named after a mechanical drawing professor in the Engineering college from 1895 to 1938. It’s said that he was the one who established ice skating on Beebe Lake.  In addition, it was he who began the Cornell hockey tradition, by encouraging students to form a team.  In 1922, the University built a two-story facility where skaters could spend time, eat, drink, and warm up, naming it after Professor Parson.  However, in 1958, when skating events were moved to Lynah Rink, the University chose to take down the top two floors of the Club.  The remaining basement area was covered and is now used by Cornell Outdoor Education. [3]”

Rather nice place, from the looks of it. Tudoresque.


Bacon Baseball Cage. The first Cornell mascot bear, Touchdown I, was housed here in 1915. [4] The building would be taken down for the addition of the press-box and more seats at Schoellkopf.


Laying the cornerstone for Goldwin Smith Hall in 1902. The building that is currently the north wing was constructed earlier on as the Dairy Science building.


Law Hall, a couple small ag buildings, and the third observatory. It would be torn down for Barton Hall in 1915, and replaced with the observatory on north campus in 1924.


Schuyler House, the grad dormitory, used to be Cornell Infirmary. Next door is the Sage House. This was a time when students lived down the hill in fraternities or boarding houses, so it made sense to have the infirmary between the city and the college.


Speaks for itself. Screw pumpkins on the clock tower, I’m going to go tear down the bridge into Collegetown.


Fancy arc lighting. The house in the back was the stately home of Presidents Adams (1885-1892) and Schurman (1892-1920). It was torn down for Baker Lab shortly thereafter.


All the functions of a 1900s barn (where the CCC is today), all the appearance of a redneck’s idea of Count Dracula’s castle.


Can we reconstruct this building as a dorm? Please? Hey, I know Morse Hall was burnt down by a fire and all in February 1916, but the design can be retrofitted with today’s safety standards. Really.







12 responses

10 11 2008

that map represented cornell’s architectural peak. every building they tore down since then (roberts, the armory, boardman…) and put up since then (highlights include bradfield, olin, the eng. quad) have been mistakes. couple that with the dutch elm disease and it almost makes you sick thinking about how much beauty has been lost. two good things have come since then 1). closing central ave (though the trolley would be a welcome break for my feet, and Ho Plaza is too concrete for me), and 2). Bailey Plaza (full of win, though it’s sad it has to be a traffic island). alas… perhaps one day far into the future technology will allow for cheap stone-carved gothic masterpieces? one can hope…

13 11 2008

Wow, very interesting. I’m a Cornell alumna myself…yet I know near nothing about the history!

21 08 2009

LOL nice.

4 01 2010
Patrick Donovan

I have a few snapshots of my first home on E. Vetsburg Place.
I was born in Dec. 1946 and spent 2 yrs. there.
I wish the aerial photo were a bit more detailed, as there was an old cemetery – just a few stones – near our building, and it would be a hoot to be able to locate it.

23 06 2014

Nice photos of Cornell’s old buildings!

Need help: Looking for location of “Kline Road dormitories” circa 1954

Kline Road aka Pleasant Grove Road

The dorm I want to find was at 1804 KLINE ROAD

Does the dorm still exist? Where was the location, exactly?

24 06 2014
B. C.

Hmm…offhand, there were a series of barracks built to handle the massive influx of men under the GI Bill, and these were built on Pleasant Grove Road in 1946. Some of the temp dorms were replaced with the Hasbrouck Apartments in 1961, the rest became apartments that were demolished at the end of the 1990s.

24 06 2014

Thanks, those are some good resources.

I did a bit more research using the 1953-54 Cornell Student Directory. It appears I am not looking for the dorm, but a house located at 1804 Kline Road. The directory shows many students living on Kline Road, circa 1954. Is there possibly a district of old houses on a road that used to called “Kline Road”? Is it possible to find 1804 Kline Road, circa 1954? I think I read Pleasant Grove Road used to be Kline Road, but where would 1804 be?

24 06 2014
B. C.

Kline has three-digit addresses at this time, but he section of Kline Road that became Pleasant Grove Road was renamed in 1953, right around when the directory was published. Pleasant Grove uses three digits, but given that Kline increases eastward (the last one today is 701), and PG is east of Kline, it’s likely that what were 4-digit Kline addresses are now 3-digit PG addresses. A cross-comparison of the 1953-54, 1954-55 and 1955-56 Cornell directories shows that the 16xx-19xx series of Kline are much reduced in 1954-55, and non-existent by 1955-56. Nearly all buildings on PG were built or relocated to PG after 1955 (http://geo.tompkins-co.org/html/?viewer=tcpropmo). Your best luck for determining what exactly was at 1804 Kline is to email Bea Szekely with the village of Cayuga Heights (bszekely@cayuga-heights.ny.us) or Corey Earle, Cornell’s resident historian (Corey.Earle@cornell.edu).

24 06 2014
B. C.

I shot a quick email over to Corey Earle, I’ll let you know if he responds.

24 06 2014

Thanks for the info. and help. I will contact Bea & Corey. I will also take a look at the cross-comparison; I have the other directories too. It seems like if you dropped the 1st digit from the 4-digit addresses, the addresses would be close to today’s 3-digit numbers, but still would need to check that.

24 06 2014
B. C.

From Corey: I’m guessing it was the shoddy post-war “Kline Road dorms” built in ’46-’47 & torn down in ’55 after U-Halls opened in fall ’54.

24 06 2014

I think you and Corey are right. I was looking at the 1953-54 Student Directory again. It says Kline Dormitories are Buildings 11, 12, 17, 18, & 19.
All the number listings for Kline Road start with only those Building numbers. 1804 must be Building 18, Room number 04.
**So my next question is how to go about finding a PHOTO of the Kline Road dorms.** I saw some articles saying there was a fire at the Kline Road dorms in 1946, so I don’t know what was built after the fire. I think the location of the dorms was near the Fuertes Observatory; I saw a map with Kline Road near the observatory.

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