The Rejuvenation of Gannett Health Center

28 02 2012

A while back, I mentioned that the plan for Gannett Health Center was to tear down the current structure and replace it on the same parcel of land with a new 90,000-130,000 sq ft building. While the project is still in the pipeline, a massing proposal suggests one rough idea of the future Gannett:

From HOLT Architects’ portofolio section comes this little nugget of information:

“…the 2007 HOLT Master Plan developed a comprehensive building space program for a 119,000 gsf replacement facility. Concept designs tested the full program fit on the existing central campus site and including substantial new parking requirements. Massing models, single and multi-phase construction sequencing, project costs, and schedules were outlined to assist the university with strategic planning.”

In other words, its a proposal for a new building, but it’s just one possible solution that may or may not be pursued by the university for the new Gannett. The proposal offers up a 119,000 sq ft 5-story (+1 more floor for mechanicals) structure whose massing suggests a curved face to maintain context with Campus Road to its southwest.

A couple of things stand out in the massing concepts. One, the ground textures were not updated to reflect the massing proposal. Two, the revised Hollister Hall can be seen at right (southeast). I’d be inclined to say that that would be based off of the master plan, but the master plan also calls for a demolition of the Cornell Store and Day Hall, which are not included in the imagery. It could be a saved time and effort on behalf of the company, or it could mean that the plans for Hollister are a little more solid than the other master plan suggestions. Either idea is plausible.

Since Gannett is currently only 39,000 sq ft, a building three times larger would leave an indelible impression on the intersection of Campus and College, arguably one of the most prominent on campus. Whether Cornell goes with this massing model, the tiered building in the master plan, or another design (not a hypermodern box, I can hope) remains to be seen in the university’s long-term plans.

The Strange Case of Edward H. Rulloff

21 02 2012

Image Property of Rulloff's Restaurant, Ithaca NY

In some way, shape or form, most Cornellians are familiar with the Rulloff name. If you’ve ever lingered in Collegetown, you’re aware of Rulloff’s restaurant and bar over on College Avenue. If you’re a real campus adventurer, you might even be aware of Edward Rulloff’s brain, stored in preservatives over in Uris Hall. But, apart from the piece of news that he was a convicted murderer and noted linguist, not much else is shared. So this entry is to shine a little more light on the murderous man of many talents.

Edward H. Rulloff (officially John Edward Howard Rulofson) was born around 1820 to Rulof Rulofson, a second-generation American who had the unfortunate luck of being a loyalist living in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. Unsurprisingly, he left for New Brunswick, where he was granted land and became, of all things, justice of the peace. Some articles suggest that Edward developed his talents as a result of an incident where his younger brother Rulof was critically injured due to  a beating from a school teacher (it took young Rulof several weeks to recover; the teacher begged for forgiveness, which was apparently given, and the brother became a prosperous lumber merchant in northern Pennsylvania).

Edward was, as an adult, described as a serious and studious individual, professorial, even grandfatherly. He was devoted to his research, often spending several hours a day researching and writing, in spartan accommodations – the life of a hard-nosed academic.  He went by numerous names and aliases – Edouard Leurio, Edward Rulofson, and his preferred name, Edward Rulloff. Edward Rulloff considered himself a self-taught but well-respected philologist – that is, a person who studies language formation.

Edward Rulloff’s research was that he believed there was “method” in the incongruities of the world’s languages (a sort of “key” for decoding languages). This pursuit was dubious at best; his theories were but one of dozens, with most of the others tying into “superior” and “inferior” languages and overt racism.  Besides the philology, Rulloff was a self-trained physician, an inventor, and a self-proclaimed expert on phrenology (a debunked science suggesting that bumps on the human skull were indicative of certain behaviors and character traits). However, he had never gained much wealth, which he wrote off to “misfortunes”, as he opined during his many forays into self-pity. He hoped to build his name on his manuscript, Method in the Formation of Language, and gain the wealth and respect he craved.

But there was more to Edward Ruloff than his elderly professor persona; as a young man, he served two years for embezzlement. Arriving in Dryden in the 1840s, he was arrested for several burglaries and robberies between 1845 and 1871, and was accused of beating his wife Harriet and their young daughter to death (it was alleged their bodies were dumped into Cayuga Lake; although never proven, he served ten years, possibly because the jury believed an innocent man does not flee to Chicago and then lure his brother-in-law out west on a wild goose chase), as well as poisoning his sister-in-law and niece. Although Rulloff was in and out of jail (and broke out of the Tompkins County jail at least once, only to be apprehended in Ohio after being recognized by an old prison-mate), he avoided real punishment due to a lack of evidence in his crimes.

Eventually, his luck ran out. After murdering a store clerk in Binghamton, Rulloff was sentenced to death by hanging. He was caught because he left behind his shoes fleeing the scene, and missing his left big toe, the lack of a left toe indent in those shoes made for an easy identifier of their owner.  His was the last public hanging in New York State, on May 18th, 1871. It is claimed his last words were  “Hurry it up! I want to be in hell in time for dinner.” His brain was collected by Cornell professor Burt Wilder, who declared it the largest he had ever examined.

As it would seem, Rulloff’s vicious behavior seem to have run in the family. His youngest brother, a notable 19th century photographer named William Rulofson, was known to have a vicious temper himself. William had ten kids from two wives, of which one of them, Charles, murdered his half-sister. The boy was nine years old.

…and to leave this entry off, here’s an excerpt from Rulloff’s Restauant’s biography of Edward Rulloff:

“Unrepentant to the end, Rulloff proclaimed in his final interview, published in the Ithaca Daily Leader the week before his death, ‘…you cannot kill an unquiet spirit, and I know that my impending death will not mean the end of Rulloff. In the dead of night, walking along Cayuga Street, you will sense my presence. When you wake to a sudden chill, I will be in the room. And when you find yourself alone at the lake shore, gazing at gray Cayuga, know that I was cut short and your ancestors killed me.‘”

Sweet dreams.

The Keyword Bar XV

11 02 2012

The news has been slow lately (I’m not about to devote an entire entry to another new senior housing complex in Ithaca, and Cornell hasn’t done anything lately that I would write about on the blog) and life as a grad student in another city leaves me unprepared to write Cornell history articles. So now comes that special time to cherry pick search queries that brought people to this blog, and write blurbs about those.

“who is responsible for tep frat house maintenance at cornell” (2-11-2012)

If I was being a wiseass I’d say no one, considering its appearance. The house is private-owned, so it’s not the university. Many houses have contracts with local cleaning and maintenance companies; some have their members do minor routine cleaning (usually led by a brother elected or appointed as house manager), and may even have live-in “staff” for managing the more involved maintenance of the facility. However, it varies from chapter to chapter, and something as banal as maintenance usually isn’t publicized, so I don’t think you’ll find your answer online.

“johnson boatyard ithaca, condos” (2-10-2012)

This has actually been a rather hot topic, as I’ve had an abnormally high number of incoming queries regarding this project. The project still calls for 22 townhomes (11 to start construction initally, along with some commercial space), about 130-150 units in 5 5-story buildings to be built later phases, as well as more retail space. The grand total for gross square footage is about 292,000 sq ft. The planning board minutes don’t provide a whole lot more detail; the parking will be facing the road, so effectively it’s road -> parking lot -> buildings -> waterfront. Sidewalks, plazas, waterfront promenades, a proposed roundabout on the end of Pier Road, and a new pier. Definitely a large development as Ithaca projects go.

“cornell widow magazine” (2-10-2012)

The Cornell Widow was a humor magazine published by students at Cornell from October 1894 until 1962, when financial issues forced its shutdown. Apparently, the term widow meant “the girl who bowled over class after class of freshmen without really landing one”, so fairly similar to the “cougar” of today. The magazine routinely made fun of the Sun (The “Cornell Daily Sin“), and although its humor is consider fairly dated and/or offensive, its cover illustrations are highly regarded. The Cornell Lunatic sort-of took over the role of campus humor magazine starting in the late 1970s. An anthology titled “Cornell Widow: Hundredth Anniversary Anthology 1894-1994) was published in 1981.

“cornell campus” construction news nyc

This is a bit of a tough decision for me, but I am making the conscious decision to limit my discussion of the construction new grad campus in NYC. I may mention it in passing, and maybe way, way down the line, there will be an entry about the physical plant. But the focus of this blog has been the physical plant in Ithaca, not New York City, and I plan on keeping it that way for the foreseeable future.

“google i want the ithaca journal and stop been stupid” (2-8-2012)

Am I being trolled?

“cornell balch hall homicide” (2-5-2012)

No homicide has occurred in Balch Hall. You might be looking for lowrise 7’s double murder back in 1983.

“ithaca construction state street quarry” (2-6-2012)

That would be the Collegetown Terrace project.

“cornell plantations welcome center cost” (1-31-2012)

About $5.8 million, for about 18,000 sq ft.