Cady at Williams: Dutch Revival in stone

Throughout this blog’s existence thus far, I had always mentioned Cady’s two buildings at Williams College in a sort of context of uncertain longing, essentially saying “I would love to complete my tour of all Cady academic buildings in existence, but Williamstown is so far away and I can’t just go there freely whenever I want!” There was never a certainty of “You’ll see them when I get to them.” It was always “If I get to them…”

Therefore I am happy to report that I got to spend September 3rd in Williamstown, Massachusetts, taking in not just the Morgan Hall dormitory and Lasell Gymnasium, but also all the other sights that Williams College and the small town it is woven into have to offer.

The hills around Williamstown, as seen from the Clark Art Institute.
The hills around Williamstown, as seen from the Clark Art Institute.

Williamstown is the northwesternmost town in Massachusetts, about 2 hours north of the Hartford area and near basically nothing but the former industrial city of North Adams, best known as the home of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). The center of Williamstown and Williams College are one and the same, resulting in a town that to me didn’t feel much like a typical small New England town and a college campus that didn’t feel very coherent. The individual buildings are all quite pleasant, though, and the mountains that surround the town on all sides (see above) provide a lovely backdrop.

For those not aware, Williams is quite old, dating to 1793. It is also one of the most elite small liberal arts colleges in the country, if not the most elite, given that both Forbes and U.S. News & World Report rank it first in the nation. Rival Amherst College, which split off from Williams in 1821, is consistently ranked second. Wesleyan, which certainly was so vital to my early Cady explorations, is closely associated with both Williams and Amherst in the form of a grouping referred to as the Little Three, which began as a sort of athletic conference around the turn of the 20th century.

West College (1790), the oldest building on campus...and at first the only one. Today it is a residence hall.
West College (1790), the oldest building on campus…and at first the only one. Today it is a residence hall.

Cady’s contributions to Williams came in the 1880s, before he became something of a fixture at Wesleyan for a time. The two Williams buildings, Morgan Hall (1883) and Lasell Gymnasium (1886), are both physically close on campus (on opposite sides of the north end of Spring Street, a quintessential college town commercial street) and stylistically similar. As the title of this post indicates, both feature prominent Dutch Revival elements, though Curran also correctly points out the inclusion of Romanesque features, which is certainly typical for Cady. They also share a common material, light gray limestone, which Curran says originated both from the local mountains and Kentucky.

Morgan Hall
Morgan Hall

Morgan Hall is a residence hall that houses upperclass students. A Williams information page on it describes it as a bit over 24,000 square feet in size and consisting almost entirely of single rooms.

As can be seen above, with the exception of a few features and the natural effect of sloping terrain, the north facade of Morgan (which I presume most think of as the “front”) is nearly symmetrical. It is here that the Dutch influence is most obvious in the form of the three gables, but otherwise most of the building is in the common Romanesque style of the day that I have amply discussed elsewhere.

Dutch gables are also used on the east and west ends of the building, as seen here:

IMG_5610
This is the east end. Note the unusual dormer window on the top floor.

The south side or “back” of Morgan, however, is entirely different and much plainer, but still quite recognizable as a Cady building. The multiple clerestory windows on the top floor are common to buildings I’ve focused on in the past like Chittenden at Yale and Fayerweather at Wesleyan. There is essentially no ornamentation or distinct style of any kind, and the stonework is rougher.

IMG_5607
I don’t know what causes the rust-like effect visible in the foreground but I doubt Williams would allow such a thing to remain on the more visible north side of the building.

Directly across Spring Street from Morgan is Lasell Gymnasium. Lasell originates from the same context of late 19th century interest in physical education that Fayerweather does, though it is quite a different building in appearance.

IMG_5611
Curran compares it to the Farnam Residence at Yale. I think that’s a bit too much of a stretch, as they are very different types of buildings.

Lasell mixes Dutch and Romanesque elements as equally as Morgan, including the former via gables and the latter with the distinct square tower. It is the oldest component of the Williams athletic complex and is quite well-used, but the actual large gym room is the smallest major athletic space in the complex, no larger than a single basketball court. As courts go, though, it certainly does function as a beautiful piece of living history, with a full wooden walkway running around the second floor.

IMG_5655
I observed it through a door but did not enter, as a casual game was in progress.

Ultimately, the strength of Cady’s contributions to Williams, and what I experienced viewing them that I didn’t truly feel anywhere else in my explorations, is a sense of consistency and unity of design. On a campus that (as I said earlier) is somewhat lacking in architectural coherence, here are two attractive and dignified buildings in the same style, built around the same time and situated in direct proximity to each other. Presumably, few people would be surprised to hear that they were designed by the same architect. Though a dorm and a gym are functionally very different, Morgan and Lasell form one of the most coherent architectural units among all of the Victorian-era buildings at Williams, and that’s something the college should be proud of.

Book Spotlight: “Experimental Mechanics”

IMG_5559

With today’s book spotlight, I have the opportunity to focus on the engineering side of things to an extent. To discuss Cady and engineering is to move beyond Cady himself and discuss one of his partners, Louis DeCoppet Berg.

Curran has far more to say about Berg than Milton See, whose role in the trio’s partnership is described as “a puzzle”. Berg was trained almost entirely in Germany, including at the Royal Polytechnical School in Stuttgart, and was certainly the greatest engineer in the firm. He wrote a four-volume series called Safe Building during the firm’s heyday and provided the technical skill that made the Metropolitan Opera House design possible.

Cady was considered the overall “chief designer” according to Curran, and strikes me as more artistically-minded than Berg. Far more of the books in his library concern architectural history or decorative elements than anything that would be considered what we today call STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). What I present now is a very attractive exception.

Experimental Mechanics (1871), also known as On Experimental Mechanics, is a compilation in book form of an evening lecture course on experimental mechanics held in the spring of 1870 at the then fairly young Royal College of Science for Ireland and taught by Robert Stawell Ball, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Mechanism. (In 1926 the College was absorbed into University College Dublin as the faculty of Science and Engineering.)

The book makes ample use of illustrations to present ideas clearly, and subjects were chosen with practical value in mind. All this seems fitting for an adaptation of a course designed for artisans and others with day jobs that would force them to attend night school. The book includes all 20 lectures in the course, which range from the simple and introductory “The Composition of Forces” to the rather more complex “The Mechanical Principles of a Clock”.

Part of the reason illustrations are so important to the book is to allow Ball to replicate the use of one of his main types of visual aids from the lectures, a series of highly versatile devices:

Lecture I Fig. 3
Lecture I Fig. 3
Lecture V Fig. 33
Lecture V Fig. 33

Essentially, this book is like the 1870s equivalent of a modern taped lecture series in the sense that the visual aids are important. I guess photography was not quite advanced enough at the time to serve as an economical way of illustrating the experiments. In terms of content, it doesn’t feel that different from high school physics class.

Unlike a modern set of videos or an ordinary classroom textbook, though, Experimental Mechanics is quite elegant, nearly as beautiful a book as The Story of a House. It certainly looks similar, given that it uses about the same color scheme:

The cover looks a bit orange here in this light, but all other photos prove it's red.
The cover looks a bit orange here in this light, but all other photos prove it’s red.

As with House, everything on the red, gold, and black cover is stamped. Naturally, the cover depicts one of Ball’s experiments in action.

Not quite sure what this device on the spine is.
Not quite sure what this device on the spine is.

The spine is the only place where the title includes an “On”.

Given Berg’s expertise and the fact that not everything in this book seems immediately relevant to many aspects of architecture, one may wonder why Cady owned this book at all. As I said earlier, it’s definitely an outlier in the Cady Collection. The best answer I can come up with is that Cady was a a fairly open-minded and curious man and may have wanted to brush up on the basics of physics and mechanics just in case he needed to answer certain types of questions when Berg wasn’t around. Given that he held onto the book, it must have been satisfying and useful.

Regardless of why this particular book was in the possession of this particular man, it makes the same point in any context that was first brought to my attention with The Story of a House: Victorian hardcover books were very attractive no matter what the subject. Compared to architecture and clothes, books might not be the first ornate product of the era that most people think of, but I think books like this one leave a permanent impression of extraordinary elegance on anyone who’s seen a few of them.

The Proof is in the Pictures: Some newly-discovered historic Saint Anthony Hall photos

A coworker provided me with two folders containing some great old black-and-white photos of Saint Anthony Hall. Thanks, Henry!

I find it interesting to think about how when I was initially photographing, researching, and posting about the Saint Anthony Hall chapterhouse, all I had to prove the nature of the modern addition was one picture in a Trinity history book and a few pictures in that excellent photo gallery on the Delta Psi website. Now I realize that there were photos of the building somewhere in the actual university archives, but none of us had any idea they were there or would have had any idea of how to look for them, so I don’t think anybody can be faulted for not finding them sooner. If I understand correctly, they were discovered by accident.

The photos consist of a number of exterior shots of the building, a few interior pictures, and some member-group pictures. I will not be providing pictures of all of them here, since a number of the exterior photos are rather similar.

Exterior
Exterior

The above photos clearly span a few decades, as we see young trees grow from brand-new on the right to somewhat more substantial on the left. Some kind of lines (telephone, telegraph, or electric, I’m not sure) can be seen in the background of the left picture on the left side, and part of a building can be vaguely discerned on the right side behind the chapterhouse itself.

One theme is clear though: Once upon a time, Saint Anthony Hall was alone and isolated on a wide-open hilltop. Though circumstances are hardly the same today, it still feels a bit lonely up there on the far northwest corner of campus.

A rarer photographic prize is of course interior photographs, which I feel fly amusingly in the face of the society’s famous secrecy. There are only two here, and there were indeed some present on the Delta Psi website, but these have a historic elegance of a different sort than those.

Interior
Interior

This may or may not be the last time I have anything to say at length about Saint Anthony Hall on this blog, but just in case it really is, there’s a conclusion I’ve come to in my time researching it. Given that it is overshadowed by at least the Long Walk and chapel (if not other buildings), it might not seem that the building gets that much attention in Trinity life and lore. Yet if you asked me, I’d probably rank it in the top five most spectacular buildings on campus. It’s the first thing a driver coming south onto campus on Summit Street sees. It is arguably the most beautiful and architecturally significant fraternity building on campus, and the society that inhabits it looms large in campus culture. The Trinity administration has clashed with Greek and similar organizations for years, but I am confident that no matter what happens to such organizations overall, Cady’s Saint Anthony Hall building will endure forever as an integral part of Trinity College.

Book Spotlight: “Hospitals and Asylums of the World – Portfolio of Plans”

IMG_5539

The books of the Cady Collection cover a broad variety of subjects and types of architecture. Some are more relevant to the Cady’s actual designs than others, and to anyone who’s been reading this blog since the beginning, a book on hospitals might seem a bit irrelevant. In fact, Cady, Berg & See did design three New York City hospitals, or at least parts of them: Presbyterian Hospital (1886 additions), Hudson Street Hospital (1894) and New York Skin and Cancer Hospital (post-1897). Curran tells us that Cady was a Governor of the first of these and a President of the last, but also admits that little is known about any of them except that they were hardly the grandest and largest of their day.

When it comes to the book I’m writing about here, though, essentially everything is larger than life. Stored horizontally in the stacks, Hospitals and Asylums of the World – Portfolio of Plans (1893) is huge overall, if thankfully not too thick. It consists entirely of plans that range in size from a mere portion of a single page to so large that they are contained in elaborate fold-outs. It is not highly ornamental, but has serious old-fashioned presence and dignity.

Front cover
Front cover
The spine
The spine

The front cover actually has a different title than what is on the spine and title page. I’m not entirely sure why, nor am I sure why the phrase “British Colonial American” lacks commas between words as it properly does on the title page. What I do know (thanks to, again, the title page) is that this a plans-only volume of a multi-volume series on hospitals by British hospital administrator and author Henry C. Burdett. Presumably one would read about the buildings in the previous volumes and have this plan-book open simultaneously to serve as a visual aid. (Note, a week after publication: I discovered that the four other volumes in the series are indeed in the Cady Collection, but shelved too far away from this book for me to have noticed them at the time. They are of course much smaller, conventional-sized books.)

The title page. The text under the author's name lists his qualifications and previous books. The other block of small text is basically the cover of the book in wordier form.
The title page. The text under the author’s name lists his qualifications and previous books. The other block of small text is basically the cover text of the book in wordier form.

The hospitals featured in the book are overall described as the “best” of their respective regions, though the book also takes care to include all hospitals in London “in the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s reign”. This presumably refers to her Golden Jubilee in 1887, as her Diamond Jubilee did not occur until 4 years after the book was published.

I was pleasantly surprised to see what sits opposite the title page:

“Selected Press Notices of Volumes I and II”

Essentially, this is like every back-cover or beginning-of-book compilation of excerpts from positive press that we see in modern books. It quotes from both general newspapers and magazines and medical journals.

The book is very well organized and the table of contents are huge:

Pages 2 and 3 of a 4-page table of contents
Pages 2 and 3 of a 4-page table of contents

The plans start out ordinary enough…

Royal Hants County Hospital, Manchester
Royal Hants County Hospital, Manchester
Swansea Hospital
Swansea Hospital

Then things really get interesting with circular-ward pavilion hospitals:

Massive foldout plan of the Civil Hospital, Antwerp
Massive foldout plan of the Civil Hospital, Antwerp

Then a recognizable name from the U.S. makes an appearance:

It's Johns Hopkins! At the time, it was looking a bit asymmetrically unfinished.
It’s Johns Hopkins! At the time, it was looking a bit asymmetrically unfinished.

Clearly, Johns Hopkins was considered important enough even for this British publication that an enlarged plan of a single ward block was provided:

The detail level is incredible.
The detail level is incredible.

The precision and complexity of these plans are truly remarkable.

The London Hospital, Whitechapel Rd.
The London Hospital, Whitechapel Rd.
Hospital for Sick Children, Pendlebury, Manchester. This hospital remained in this building until 2009.
Hospital for Sick Children, Pendlebury, Manchester. This hospital remained in this building until 2009.

Eventually I found a hospital with a name Cady would find familiar, although this building preceded his own contribution to it:

The New York Cancer Hospital, featuring multiple round sections. I wonder why there are only three.
The New York Cancer Hospital, featuring multiple round sections. I wonder why there are only three.

Hospital design theories had already begun to change by the time this book was published. Doctors actually understood germ theory by the 1890s and had since around 1880, replacing the ancient and utterly misguided miasma theory. The pavilion hospital concept had been developed to combat those “miasmas”, a nonexistent form of “bad air” believed to cause disease, and with it had come a special focus on ventilation. Obviously good ventilation was important in the days before modern HVAC systems, but doctors and architects did come to realize that miasma-fighting pavilions were not necessarily the most space-efficient way to design a hospital.

By covering a broad range of longer-standing and newer hospitals, this portfolio of plans was already a kind of history book even in its own day. Today, especially with regard to large open wards, pretty much everything in the book comes across as out of date, but it sure is interesting to look at.

Book Spotlight: “Japan: Its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures”

IMG_5519

Today’s book spotlight shines on a book not exactly as shiny as The Story of a House but nonetheless well-designed, and certainly an interesting product of its time. I would describe it as the second book in the Cady Collection that caught my eye back in June right after I first discovered The Story of a House.

It is Japan: Its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures (1882) by the British designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904). This is more than just a book on such subjects: It was born of Dresser’s extensive travels in Japan in 1876-77, and thus also records a journey and what transpired on it. That travelogue makes up the first part of the book; analysis of architecture, art, and design makes up the second part, with more extensive illustration.

A multitalented designer born 3 years before Cady, Dresser was an important figure in the Aesthetic Movement, the decorative arts aspects of which were heavily influenced by Japanese and other Asian arts. His books on design expressed views that were later considered to be quite similar to those of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Dresser’s reputation as a designer and western expert on Japan was such that none other than the Tiffany company commissioned him to collect a representative sample of Japanese art objects during his visit. In Japan he was received as an honored guest by the Emperor and given full access to essentially everywhere and anywhere in the country. A few years after his return to Britain, he established a wholesale import business with one Charles Holme to sell Asian goods in London. Dresser’s historical status as pioneer of Anglo-Japanese design is unquestionable.

Front cover
Front cover

The book’s binding is a dull medium-light grey and unlike The Story of a House and other similarly ornamental books of the period, there is no stamping. The cover design and illustration is pleasant enough but seems extremely minimal in parts. Some of it almost looks either faded or incomplete, though ultimately I doubt it is either. Why, for example, are there two portions of the pattern in the bottom left corner that seem to have been attacked with an eraser? The same could be asked, for that matter, of the pattern in the upper left. Why does the texture in between the central diagonal lines stop well before running into the heron’s face? Presumably someone other than Dresser himself designed and illustrated the cover for the publisher and thus the great designer is not to blame, but I would have expected better from something he presumably had some control or influence over.

The spine
The spine

It was the book’s spine that, as with The Story of a House, initially caught my attention. The two left-hand patterns essentially originate here, along with the pattern inside part of the diagonal lines, so that certainly keeps things interesting.

And then there’s that font used for the word “Japan”. It’s unlike anything else I can think of in the Cady collection, and it might have caught my attention a few months ago more strongly than anything else on the spine. I think everyone is familiar with fanciful typefaces that are perhaps designed to evoke an “Asian” feel, but I’d say that by modern standards, the one seen above isn’t one of them. It’s fairly similar, maybe, but to me it feels like it’s a predecessor from a time when western designers had not yet had enough contact with Japan and China to solidify such tropes.

Inside we find a familiar bookplate with a bit more interesting of a background:

This, rather than the binding, might actually be the most aesthetically interesting part of the book's design.
This, rather than the binding, might actually be the most aesthetically interesting part of the book’s design.

I’m not sure what plant/flower it’s supposed to depict, but it looks somehow Asian. Here’s my attempt at a close-up:

IMG_5523

The title page, like that of The Story of a House, is the only part of the book to utilize colored ink. I guess that’s just what publishers did to provide some visual excitement, and I suppose red was popular because it’s a nice bold color.

The layout is also very similar, with the round image sitting between the title/author and publisher.
The layout is also very similar, with the round image sitting between the title/author and publisher.

Inside, there are some illustrations in Part I of the book (the travelogue) but far more in Part II. In the Preface, Dresser states that he hired the best Japanese photographer he could find to document everything he saw, as well as a Japanese illustrator, but the lack of color illustrations in the book make it impossible to accurately convey the beauty of Japan’s art and architecture. This may be true, but the book does a fine job in its monochrome fashion. According to the preface, it seems as though all or at least most of the book’s illustrations were done as woodblock prints, a common Japanese style, by two men (British, not Japanese): “Mr. Hundley”, an illustrator, and “Mr. G. Pearson”, a “well-known” wood engraver.

Highly detailed full-page illustrations of the Shrine of Nikko
Highly detailed full-page illustrations of the Shrine of Nikko, from near the end of Part I.
A discussion of elements of architecture and building design, including
A discussion of elements of architecture and building design, including “dovetail” joints.
Some fabric patterns
Some fabric patterns
More on design and construction, and a lament about the lack of color illustrations, if you can read the text.
More on design and construction, and a lament about the lack of color illustrations, if you can read the text.
Examples of drawings
Examples of drawings

The book is so full of excellent illustrations that I can hardly show them all. If you really want to see them for yourself, then come to the Watkinson and have a look!

This book was hardly the first of its era to attempt to introduce western readers to Japan, as the opening and modernizing of Meiji-era Japan had produced plenty of western interest and cultural exchange since the 1860s. Dresser even acknowledges this fact in the preface. However, he defends himself and the book by evoking his status as an art/architecture/design specialist. In those fields it is very comprehensive and carefully observed, but also feels personal due to the Part I travelogue and the whole book’s roots in Dresser’s daily journals during the trip.

(An interesting note: Chapter VII of Part I opens with news of the Satsuma Rebellion, the last Meiji-era uprising of ex-samurai against the government and the main inspiration for the movie The Last Samurai. Dresser briefly expresses some measure of sympathy and understanding for the rebellion and ponders whether Japan might have modernized and westernized too fast for its own good, but quickly returns to his ordinary travelogue.)

Book Spotlight: “The Story of a House”

IMG_5514

With this post, I enter a new era for The Cady Corner, at least until I get a chance to visit Williams College and photograph the two Cady buildings there. I have always intended to focus extensively on the actual contents of the Cady Collection, but I suppose I let some of that slide in the name of making the most efficient progress on getting my photo-based posts published.

There were books that I noticed the very first time I ever descended into the stacks to view the collection that struck me as more immediately interesting than those that most clearly related to specific buildings I visited. One of them is what I have now chosen for my first book spotlight: The Story of a House by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (translated by George M. Towle), 1874.

Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) was a French architect and architectural theorist, a proponent of Gothic Revival who did more work “restoring” medieval buildings than designing new ones. I put those quotation marks around “restoring” because Viollet-le-Duc’s idea of restoration quite plainly often involved adding things that simply weren’t there before, with the intent of attaining a kind of “completeness”. Some examples of Viollet-le-Duc’s famous restoration-additions include the central spire of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris (clearly visible in this picture) and the conical tower roofs of the fortified town of Carcassone. Such practices usually really did help save the buildings in question (he did care about basic upkeep and not just additions) and his ideas lived on straight up to today as (though I’d certainly say we’re more cautious nowadays) as certain school of preservation thought, but as a historian I am overall wary of Viollet-le-Duc’s actions.

Regardless of his controversial views and actions, Viollet-le-Duc wrote a number of what seem to be perfectly neutral books about both architectural history and current practice. The Story of a House seems to be an example of the latter. It was translated into English and published by J.R. Osgood & Co. of Boston in 1874, when Viollet-le-Duc was five years from death and Cady was well on his way as an established architect. Whether Cady acquired the book new at that time or used some years later is not clear.

I will explain exactly what Story of a House is momentarily, but first, let’s take a moment to admire the fact that it is one of the most beautiful books in the entire Cady Collection:

Front cover
Front cover

If the gold portions had been black I still would have been impressed. If the cover had no stamped elements, which add a kind of visual depth and certainly a tactile dimension for anyone handling the book in person, I still would have been impressed, but virtually everything on the cover is stamped.

Back cover
Back cover

The back cover is also elaborately stamped, though nothing is colored in. Still, surely I’m not the only one who was so pleasantly surprised by the idea of a book with an attractive back? We don’t necessarily think of the back cover as the one that matters, and today it’s usually just covered in blurbs, but in Cady’s day, bookbinding was a kind of total aesthetic experience.

The spine
The spine

The spine again features both black and gold stamped elements. It was of course this spine that so intrigued me when I first saw it on the shelves back in June. Regardless of what we say proverbially about judging books by their covers, in the stacks I found myself judging books by their spines, and this one made an extraordinary impression.

A more distant angled view.
A more distant angled view.

I have always been fascinated with such beautiful Victorian-era books, but thanks to a superb exhibition catalogue from 2000 that resides in the Watkinson, I’ve learned more about this bygone age of bookbinding in a few hours than I ever had in my entire life. That would be The Art of Publishers’ Bookbindings 1815-1915, by Ellen K. Morris and Edward S. Levin. Such elaborate, multicolored stamped covers were actually quite an ordinary mass-produced thing when Cady was in the prime of his life. Publishers wanted to capture the attention of the buying public, which of course is still their goal today, but the advent of the modern book jacket put an end to the era of books like The Story of a House. As the scope of the 2000 exhibition indicates, such covers persisted into the early 20th century, but by my own estimation nothing could equal those of the 1870s and 80s for sheer visual impact.

Let’s open this book up and see what’s inside…

Inside cover bookplate
Inside cover bookplate

Well, that was fast. The very first thing one sees upon opening the book is this Classical Greece-themed bookplate that I assume dates from the early days of Cady’s library’s time at Trinity; perhaps it was placed there as soon as the library was bequeathed.

The title page
The title page

On the title page of the book, one finds the first of many illustrations, as well as the only use of colored ink that I could find in the whole book. I suppose this makes sense, as color printing must have been costly, and the outside of the book was certainly colorful enough!

At this point, I really should actually explain what this book is. The Story of a House is essentially a non-fiction book on the theory and practice of the construction of a house, specifically a fine large French country chateau, but it utilizes a narrative format and a fictional framing story. Therefore it is elevated beyond simply being an instructional book.

The story seems to center on a 16-year-old French boy, Paul, the son of a well-off gentleman farmer. He returns to his family’s country estate as his older sister is due to marry and his father plans to build her a house. Paul is interested in architecture but doesn’t know much about it. Luckily, his cousin is the architect who has been commissioned to design the house, and he walks Paul and the reader through the full process of design and construction. The book ends with a happy housewarming party.

The whole thing felt a bit silly to me, and it seems like when the instructional sections are at their most intense, the frame narrative fades away to an extent. But overall I think the concept is more interesting than just pure instruction.

Given Paul’s age and the fact that I have never heard of an instructional book for adults written like this, I suspect that The Story of a House may have actually been aimed at teenagers with an interest in architecture. Given that it doesn’t seem like Viollet-le-Duc wrote much for adolescents by any means, this book may have been somewhat of an outlier, almost like a Victorian precursor to the way that sometimes major authors and public figures write shorter and simpler versions of their most popular books for children and teens.

Illustrations abound, some woven into the text and others filling whole pages:

An example of mixed pages
An example of mixed pages
A full-page illustration
A full-page illustration

As I said above, I have seen books elsewhere over the years that definitely equal The Story of a House in their beauty, but there don’t seem to be almost any others like it in the Cady Collection. A lot of Cady’s books are larger than this and much more technical and no-nonsense. However, I have targeted for my next spotlight a book that at least seems to somewhat approach The Story of a House from a design standpoint, and is certainly on an interesting subject. Come back for my next post and I’ll show you.

The Tripod article of 1985: One of the most amusingly incorrect things ever written about Cady’s Saint Anthony Hall

On Homecoming Day in November 1985, to commemorate the addition of Saint Anthony Hall to the National Register of Historic Places earlier in the year, a special dedication was held at the Hall with decades of members in attendance. The following week, on November 19th, the Trinity Tripod, the official student newspaper, published a short front-page article about it by one Sean Dougherty. You can read it here thanks to the Trinity College Digital Repository.

Notice anything odd? Well, there’s the headline, for starters, which almost seems to be describing the building as having been designated a National Historic Landmark. NHLs are a special class of NRHP listings that are considered especially outstanding and important; they number about 2,500 (out of over 85,000 NRHP-listed places) and Saint Anthony Hall is not one of them, just an ordinary listing. There’s certainly the fact that the NRHP is referred to as the “Registar [sic] of National Landmarks” when there is in fact no such thing, nor was there in 1985.

The assertion that Saint Anthony Hall is the oldest fraternity building in the state still in use as such is misleadingly inadequate because it seemingly is the oldest such building in the entire country (as well as the oldest Saint Anthony Hall chapter house, as mentioned in a previous post), but that too is at least partly true, being more of an error of omission.

Then comes the following line:

St. Anthony Hall rests on the highest point of land in Hartford, and for that reason was used for the burning of witches during the early years after its construction.

I’m sorry…what? The “highest point” fact is true, yes, and before Trinity established its second campus on that hilltop it was known as Gallows Hill and may have in fact been a site of routine hangings in Hartford (this is not something I know much about), but the assertion that witches were burned in the 1880s and 90s, possibly by Saint Anthony brothers themselves, is so bizarre and historically inaccurate that I can hardly believe Dougherty (listed as a copy editor in the masthead) didn’t put it in there as a joke.

Thankfully I’m not the only person who picked up on the absurdity. The very next week (scroll down to page 6), the Tripod published a letter to the editor, under the title “St. Anthony’s Corrects Tripod”, by Saint A’s/Delta Psi member Matrio A. Aguero ’86. This upstanding senior made a clarification involving the building’s status as oldest surviving fraternity building in the country, and then proceeded to skewer the witch blunder with good humor:

People were rather different back in 1880, but I think (correct me if I’m wrong) that witch burnings occurred a little before 1880. People may have seen us burn on occasion effigiess [sic] of professors or conic sections textbooks, but please relieve yourself of the notion that Hall brothers regularly burn witches of the occult type.

Great job, Mr. Aguero. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Honestly, given its vaguely sinister medieval appearance, I would sooner imagine Saint Anthony Hall to be a place in which witches met than a place where they were killed!