Suddenly everything has gotten quiet on campus. Unless you’re one of the people responsible for organizing commencement there’s not much to do except wait for it. I had intended to put together a short but brilliant post about commencement this afternoon but instead I found myself completely sidetracked by a picture of the main entrance to the Chem Lecture Hall. This is the photograph that started me down the rabbit trail:
It was taken in October, 1943 for a Navy recruiting brochure and of course my attention went immediately to the sailors. But it only took a moment for my eye to pick out something else: at the top of the door but below the elaborate stone carvings there seems to be some decorative metal work. If you’ve been reading this for any amount of time, you surely know that there is no way I could let that go.
After some thought and some digging around, I came upon these close up images, which seem to date from around the same period:
Sitting there thinking about it I would have sworn that I’d never seen that before. And I was right. It’s not there any longer. In its place is a really, really tall door:
I don’t know when or why it went away. And I’ll get to the ivy later–it turned out to be much more complicated than the door.
Bonus: It was awfully muggy out there. Many thanks to the crew.
Melissa, have you ever run across any information about the lowest step leading up to Chem Lec? In the 1980s, the first step was concrete. More recently, I’ve noticed that it has been replaced with a stone step matching the others. Whatever was there at the time of this photo is just outside of the shot.
The story I was told was that originally there was no step there. The early chemistry department wanted to discourage women from taking their classes. The missing first step required women to lift their skirts to reach the beginning of the stairs. Since they had to expose their ankles, no real lady would ever take chemistry.
It has to just be a good story, but I’ve never seen an early picture of Chem Lec where I could tell if there’s a first step or not.
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