This is How Mysteries Are Solved

Through an endless appetite for dry, tedious detail.

About two and a half years ago we had a discussion in the comments to this post about what those two little structures near the end of the hedges might be:

Academic Court to the west 1912

They’re odd little things, with some kind of flooring, a pretty striped canvas on top and some festive garlands wound around the legs. I’ve since come across another picture that seems to have been taken on the same day that reveals there were two more of them at the Administration Building side of the quad:

Early academic quad with canopys

I still wasn’t sure what they were for, though. Then last week I was going through a box of very early business records and as soon as my eyes fell on this page I understood: they’re refreshment stands. We can now rest easy.

Formal Opening tea stand contract 1912

Two things jump out at me. First, the agreement calls for the stands to be erected during the night before the big opening ceremony on October 12, so that dates these photos as the morning of that day. Second, the contract is post-dated. One suspects that there was something close to chaos during the final run-up to the event.

Bonus: It’s been very wet, which is actually kind of nice. It makes the campus look green and lush.




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8 Responses to This is How Mysteries Are Solved

  1. james lang says:

    mushrooms are an indicator of good tilth.

    • Owlcop says:

      Tilth is a descriptor of soil. It combines the properties of particle size, moisture content, degree of aeration, rate of water infiltration, and drainage into abbreviated terms in order to more easily present the agricultural prospects of a piece of land.

  2. There’s a fungus among us. I wonder if the “tea stands” are still in the basement of Lovett Hall. If so, maybe they could re-assemble one over your desk. That would be very festive.

  3. effegee says:

    Placement of chairs west of the Administration building and 100 yards of ribbon to close off the cloister were part of the contract. I wonder why we don’t see them in the picture if it was taken 10/12/1912?

  4. effegee says:

    Ain’t autocorrect great? — per fete

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