Celebrating the history and archaeology of Brown University and Providence, Rhode Island

Tag: buildings

Class in the Archives

Our in-class time this week was spent on a fascinating fieldtrip just across the street to the John Hay Library. Recently renovated and re-opened, they Hay not only boasts stunning new workspace and reading rooms for students, but it also houses the university’s archives and special collections.

The students are hard at work on their first project for the semester. They have all selected buildings on campus, and are using the extensive archives at their disposal to research the history and lives of these buildings. When and how did they come to be constructed? What existed before they were built? How many different functions have the buildings had, and have they had changing roles within the Brown community?  These are questions we ask about any structure we might excavate, but they are just as important for those that are still standing. Some of Brown’s oldest buildings have led particularly diverse lives, and their histories are recorded in everything from receipts for building materials to poetry written by the students who lived and studied in them. The archives hold a number of other materials as well–published books, personal and administrative letters, purchase and construction records, issues of Brown Alumni Monthly and student publications, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, maps, blueprints, elevations of buildings–the list goes on. Fair warning, however–we quickly discovered that once you start poring over some of these, it’s hard to cut yourself off!

As Brown’s campus has expanded over its 250 year history, many buildings have come and gone. A number of these can still be appreciated in the archives today, not just for their beauty, but also for their historical and architectural value. Unfortunately, no hint of their presence remains to be seen on campus, and our whole group was surprised to see what had come and gone, even in the last 50 years. We encourage everyone to take advantage of the wonderful resources available at the Hay–appointments to see materials must be made by request, but the staff are both extremely knowledgeable and more than happy to help.

Details about the Hay, including a list of their collections, is available here

For further history and a guide to special collections, click here

(Photo courtesy of Brown University http://library.brown.edu/about/hay/Hay-768px.jpg)




Emily Spinner ’14: Residential Buildings

I am writing about the Corliss-Brackett house, located at 45 Prospect Street. While many know it now as the home to the Philosophy and Economics Departments, it will always be the Admissions Department to me – a building that holds great sentimental value, as it was the origin of my first tour of Brown’s campus. However, it was once a residential home, which means the house meant something completely different to the past owners. Through my research on the Corliss-Brackett house, I will discuss object agency and the malleability of meaning throughout history.

Blog posts by the students of Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past.

Darcy Andrews ’14: Residential Buildings

The cars parked outside of Andrews Hall have changed drastically since this photograph was taken in 1947, but the facade has remained largely as it was when it was first built as part of Pembroke College. Now a revitalized focal point for social life at Brown, the residence hall has acted as a medium for political and social expression through the decades. Its biography reflects the social history of the students it houses every year.

Blog posts by the students of Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past.

Stephanie Harris ’14: Residential Buildings

The house has to be considered as an individual, as a dynamic entity whose every month of life is significant for the men and women who act in and around it.” (Ruth Tringham).

Brown University’s Third World Center, or Partridge Hall was originally owned by Henry T. Beckwith, a descendent of the Brown family and the Dexter Family. Its architect was Alpheus C. Morse, the architect of Sayles Hall.

Blog posts by the students of Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past.

Keillor Irving ’15: Art, Design, and Display

Sayles Hall, built in 1881, is home to one of Brown’s most extensive and historic portrait collection. My final project will explore the history, significance and presentation of this portrait collection and aims to give students a new appreciation of a treasure trove of Brown University history they walk past every day.

Blog post by the students of Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past.

Connor Grealy ’14: Streets and Infrastructure

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for Creative Arts is an example of Brown’s continuing push to integrate sustainable design into the campus’ overall push for recognizing, holistically, the need to consider our campus as part of the larger ecosystem. The building, which achieved a Gold Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Certification, includes features that not only diminish energy use and utilizes green design but operates on the enhancement of the experiential use of building. The environment impact of buildings cannot be understated as they were recently measured to account for over 50% of energy consumption in the United States.

Blog posts by the students of Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past.