Befuddlement By the Front Gate, 2017

My intention to visit the front of campus was spurred by an email I got during Hurricane Harvey. An intrepid alum, Annette Bruer Tarver ’86, went exploring during the storm and sent me a picture of a big oak that went down near the main gate. I somehow managed to lose this picture so I had to go out and have a look myself.

In the end two large ones went down, something infinitely sadder than losing those expendable Italian cypresses:

It had been quite a few years since I wandered around near the main gate. I was surprised and delighted by the enormous trees–you can’t really tell from the road how big some of them are. And there are other, smaller trees, both oaks and pines, that give evidence of years of thoughtful care and replacement. Many of the big ones still bear tags from  inventories:

But it was something else entirely that truly captured my attention. The main gate is really  a thing of beauty but it’s also stranger and more complicated than we realize. Take a look at this image from the 1921 Flying Owls collection and you can easily see what I mean. In classic Ralph Adams Cram style what you assume is symmetrical is actually anything but:

What interests me right now is the right side of the gate, where the road goes off towards the Mech Lab and power plant. For many years that was usually open and it seems to have been fairly heavily used. These days it mostly (always?) stays closed so we’ve stopped noticing it. When I went to examine it closely I was startled to find this behind (that is, on the interior side of) the post:

There’s one behind the other post too:

I have no idea what those could have been for.


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8 Responses to Befuddlement By the Front Gate, 2017

  1. almadenmike says:

    Those relic squares are interesting! (Here’s a Google Maps view: )

  2. effegee says:

    I could imagine those square relics holding square posts with a heavy chain or heavy bar across the opening. Perhaps a time when the entrance was undergoing repair? Or perhaps “hardening” it for the Economic Summit in 1990?

  3. loki_the_bubba says:

    A history of tree inventories really should be written.

  4. Philip Walters says:

    I have a vague recollection of hydrants being in square concrete recesses like that

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