All posts by emoryhistorian

Serving in senior administrative positions at Emory University since 1988, including secretary of the university, vice president, and senior adviser to the president, I was appointed university historian in October 2015. My PhD degree, from Emory, is in Christian ethics, and I have BA and MA degrees in English (Lehigh) and a divinity degree. After writing my dissertation on Iris Murdoch, I became increasingly interested in the way institutional ethos is shaped and the way Emory, in particular, has transformed and been transformed by the moral imaginations of its people.

Traffic circle redux

Note: This post has been updated. The original post indicated that planning for the current roundabout in Emory Village began just a few years before the roundabout was completed in 2011. An earlier plan, however, had been proposed by the Chace administration as part of the university’s comprehensive campus planning of the late 1990s.

Two decades ago, during the administration of Emory president Bill Chace, the university worked with campus planners and traffic consultants to design a new intersection at the front gate of the university. A recommendation went forward to DeKalb County to replace the traffic light at the five-point intersection with a roundabout. More than a decade passed before the county and businesses in Emory Village saw the wisdom of the recommendation. In 2011, the county completed the current roundabout, and along the way Emory enhanced the Haygood-Hopkins Gate with a sweeping pair of marble walls to create a grand entrance to the campus.

It turns out, oddly enough, that this concept was already half a century old when the roundabout opened, although no one may have known it at the time.

Recently, as I looked through materials in the Campus Buildings and Landmarks Collection in the university archives, I came across three drawings created in 1960. No documents or explanation accompanied the drawings, so I can’t say what the intention was behind them. Did the administration seriously contemplate an imposing new front door to the campus? Was this design merely a suggestion from an interested landscape architect? Did other plans take precedence, leaving these renderings to be forgotten?

What strikes me about the first drawing, below, is the plan for a building where the Boisfeuillet Jones Center would be constructed a quarter-century later. To the west of that “future building,” the architect suggested a memorial terrace in the space now occupied by the Oxford Road Building and its parking deck.

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Here’s a close-up the west elevation of the memorial terrace, as if from Oxford Road:

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More striking is the proposal for a traffic circle and a monumental “auto entrance” to the campus, shown below. The siting of the roundabout almost exactly matches the contours of the 2011 roundabout. It’s unclear from the sketch in the upper-left corner whether the Haygood-Hopkins Gate would have been retained as the central pillars of the two-way auto entrance, but the 2011 solution–which made the entrance one-way through the Haygood-Hopkins arch–works fine.20180813_162246

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Emory Village roundabout, satellite view from Google Maps.

The third rendering, below, shows a similar but somewhat less grand entrance to the campus off Oxford Road, near the old Gilbert Hall. The university razed Gilbert (and its neighbor, Thomson Hall) in 2007 to realign the streets at that entrance and make room for the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Sciences Building.

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Someone in 1960 was thinking about making the campus more elegant. Unfortunately, succeeding decades would take the campus in a different direction, adding Brutalist-style architecture and impeded traffic patterns around the campus. It would take until the Chace administration — nearly four decades after these drawings were completed — before the university would begin attending to its built-up space with a similar concern for the stylish look and graceful flow of open spaces.

Gary Hauk

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Emory’s religious pilgrimage

When I was a freshman at Lehigh University, more years ago than I care to admit, my fellow frosh and I took a survey that the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) has been administering to first-year students since 1966. It’s a useful tool for studying how students at American colleges and universities have changed over the decades — not only in terms of income levels, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and similar measurements, but also in terms of attitudes, aspirations, and aptitudes.

Among the dozens of questions, the survey always includes one about religious preference. My only recollection about my freshman class in this regard is that one student checked the box beside “Other” and wrote in “Druid — Reformed.”

I’ve been thinking of this in light of Emory’s United Methodist affiliation and the latest data on religious affiliation of Emory students.

The Methodist trustees who wrote the University bylaws in 1915 said that Emory “was founded . . . for the promotion of the broadest intellectual culture in harmony with the democratic institutions of our country and permeated by the principles and influences of the Christian religion. It is designed to be a profoundly religious institution without being narrowly sectarian. It proposes to encourage freedom of thought as liberal as the limitations of truth.”

Such language neatly fit the vision of John and Charles Wesley, who sought to blend “knowledge and vital piety.” Methodism launched scores of colleges in the United States out of a faith that education would improve the soul as well as the mind.

In many ways, of course, the founders in 1915 understood our “democratic institutions” differently than we do today. Jim Crow laws still prevailed in the South, and women would not have the right to vote in federal elections for another twenty years.

Similarly, what it means to be “profoundly religious . . . without being narrowly sectarian” has changed. In those days, it meant that this Methodist university would admit students without regard to whether they were Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, or even Catholic or Jewish. It would be a long time, however, before the Emory Christian Association, formed by students in the 1930s, would be renamed the Emory Religious Association to reflect the growing religious diversity of the university.

Nowadays, a very vibrant interfaith program run by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life brings together students from dozens of religious persuasions. Cannon Chapel is the scene of Muslim Jumah prayers on Friday afternoons, Jewish observances on high holy days, Catholic masses on Sunday mornings and evenings, and ecumenical Protestant worship.

The latest data for Emory undergraduates — from the fall of 2017 — indicate that Methodism no longer outnumbers other religions on campus, and in fact Methodist students are not even the most numerous among Protestant Christians. The chart below tells the story.

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As matters of religious conviction continue to infuse our national and international politics and determine the worldviews of most of the world’s people, it’s a fair question to ask whether Emory continues to present itself as a place of scholarship and inquiry where the study and practice of religion also matter. Emory is not a Methodist Notre Dame or Georgetown or Brandeis, where the institution’s religious identity is as well known as its scholarship and teaching.

Still, the Candler School of Theology (the world’s largest United Methodist seminary), the groundbreaking Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and pioneering efforts like the Interfaith Health Program in the Rollins School of Public Health and the Journeys of Reconciliation sponsored by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life go a long way toward that blend of scholarship and faith imagined by Emory’s founders.

The most recent CIRP survey turned up no sign of Reformed Druids at Emory, but I plan to keep my eye out. One is likely to be along any time, and I suspect that I’ll have much to learn in our conversation.

Gary Hauk

A house puzzle

Leafing through old photos in the archives, I often find it difficult to identify their places and dates — not to mention their many anonymous faces. Occasionally the photo backs will have that information, but most of the time there is nothing. And sometimes what I do find on the back of a photo creates more puzzles than it solves.

Take this photo, for instance.

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Shot sometime in the late 1800s, the photo has no identifying inscription. The fancy wood trim on the porch, however, resembles the trim on a house that appears in Erik Oliver’s book about Oxford in the Images of America series (Arcadia). Professor George W. W. Stone, one of the earliest graduates of Emory College and for decades afterward a member of the faculty, owned this house, which passed down through the generations of his family.

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The Stone House as it appears in “Images of Oxford,” by Erik Oliver.

Both clapboard houses have the same wood trim around the porch, but you’ll notice that the house behind the students has more windows than the Stone House. Actually, the house with the students more closely resembles the front of the President’s House, shown below and in this “Emory History Minute.” The President’s House now serves as the official home of the dean of Oxford College.

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The number of windows matches those in the photo with the students, and the porch trim is the same — perhaps made by the same craftsman, as the houses were both built in the 1830s. But the wings of the President’s House, added in the 1840s, don’t appear in the much later image with the students. The roof line in the image with students also lacks the dentils that appear under the roof line of the President’s House. All very curious.

When I showed the photo of the students to Kathy Shoemaker, reference coordinator in the Rose Library, she remarked that they resembled a group of SAE students she’d seen. When I looked in the SAE photo files, behold — there were the same students in a similar pose on the same porch, photographed around 1900. On the back of the photo was written, “SAE students at Alexander Means house.”

So yet another house enters the mystery.

Alexander Means bought Orna Villa, his Oxford house, some eight or nine years after it was built in 1825. The house has the right number of windows, but unless the photo was taken on the back porch, Orna Villa’s front is very different from the front of the house in the students’ photo.

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For me the evidence is inconclusive—I can’t tell where those students posed for that photograph sometime around the turn of the nineteenth century to the twentieth. But I do take one lesson from these photos. Any of us who still actually print photographs and collect them in albums or drawers should always take a minute to write on the back their dates and locations and the names of the people in them. I’m going to my collection with a Sharpie right now.

Gary Hauk

The vanished log cabin at Emory

In a more rustic era, a variety of simple structures like the one below graced the Emory campus, lending the place an air of a Boy Scout camp or a Civilian Conservation Corps site. Notice the tracks running past it.

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I was reminded of this image a couple of weeks ago when Jim Morey, English professor and resident of Druid Hills, wrote to me with a question about something I had posted in a brief story about the original Druid Hills campus.  The map in that post is one I pulled as a screenshot from Google Maps. Jim noted the “Emory Trolley Line Substation” in that image and wondered whether that referred to the small brick building at the corner of Oxford Road and Eagle Row. You can see that notation on the map below.

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There is, indeed, a Georgia Power substation on that corner, and aerial photos suggest that the small red-brick building in that area dates from the late 1940s, while the high brick wall behind it, surrounding the large steel structure and high-tension wires of the substation, may be a somewhat later construction, or may have been enlarged as the demand for power in the neighborhood increased.

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It’s interesting but odd that Google Maps would identify that space with the Emory trolley!

It’s true that until about 1947, a trolley ran from Briarcliff Road along the Byway to Oxford Road and then to a stop near the Emory Village intersection. There — at about where Chipotle and Romeo’s Pizza now share a building — the trolley reversed direction and returned to Atlanta (this was long before Emory was officially part of the city). The route appears as a red line in the map below.

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The location of the little shelter at the trolley stop also appears on a campus map from 1940-41, below.

1940-41 map

That trolley stopped running in 1947 — coincidentally, the same year that Gilbert and Thompson residence halls were constructed near that corner. Perhaps the small brick structure for the substation went up at the same time.

It’s fascinating to imagine that recent decisions by Atlanta, MARTA, and Emory might one day bring back to Emory light rail reminiscent of the trolley. But the log cabin likely will remain a thing of the past.

Gary Hauk

Taking the trolley to Dobbs?

I recently came across a photo that made me wonder whether a trolley once ran through the Emory campus, although that seems farfetched, and nothing I’ve read or heard has ever suggested it.

Dobbs Hall, named for donor and trustee Samuel Candler Dobbs, a nephew of Asa Candler Sr., originally housed theology and law students when it opened in 1916 as one of the first two residence halls on the Druid Hills campus. The building — made for student life before radio, let alone television, stereos, hair-dryers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, mini-fridges, George Foreman grills, and computers with their accessory printers — still houses first-year students in Emory College, for whom the cramped shared rooms build “esprit de corps.”

In 1962, to accommodate a growing student body, Emory built a concrete addition, which you can see in the photo below. Taken last week, the photo is not great, but it offers the same perspective as the next photo, in black and white, which was taken perhaps in the 1930s or 1940s.

Dobbs Hall 2018

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The street going off to the right in the second photo is the current Dickey Drive, formerly called Pierce Drive until a realignment of streets in the early 2000s (named for earlier Emory presidents James E. Dickey and George Foster Pierce). The street going up to the left was formerly called Arkwright Drive and is now simply a sidewalk between Dobbs Hall and the Woodruff Physical Education Center and soccer field. (Preston Arkwright was an early 20th-century trustee and the first president of Georgia Power.)

What caught my attention in this photo is the overhead wires going up Arkwright Drive. They look like trolley wires, but they may be simply power lines serving nearby buildings.

Below is another photo of Dobbs Hall from roughly the same perspective in March 1960, two years before the addition of the back section of the building.

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I would love to hear from any former residents of the building who have stories about life in Dobbs.

Gary Hauk

 

Hallmarks of a good mace

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The seal of Emory University graces the ball at the foot of the university mace.

Last week, the 173rd Commencement exercises at Emory brought the Emory University mace into prominence for me in two ways.

The first came in a question from Joe Moon, dean of campus life for Oxford College and the resident expert on the history of the Oxford campus. He sent the photograph below and asked what the marks on the back of the mace indicate.

mace hallmarks

I thought the marks had something to do with the manufacture of the mace, and it turns out that, indeed, these are the hallmarks of the London artists who made it. The lion with the tail, second from the left, indicates nearly pure silver (there is also some gold), while the face of the lion next to it indicates that the mace was manufactured in London. The letter i on the far right indicates the date of manufacture, 1964. I’m not certain what the hallmark on the far left indicates, but it may signify the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who “executed” the mace in silver and gold.

For a short description of how to read hallmarks, here is the website for the Assay Office in Birmingham, UK.  This additional link shows the letters that correspond to dates of silversmith production in London from 1956 through 1974.

Eric Clements, of Birmingham, England, designed the mace with the help of George Cuttino, long-time professor of medieval history and the chief marshal of Emory University from 1976 through Commencement 1984. (See this Emory Magazine article for more about the mace.) DVS, the Senior Society, presented the mace to Emory on January 25, 1965, during the convocation marking the fiftieth anniversary of the university’s charter in DeKalb County. The president of the Student Senate at the time, E. Culpepper (Cully) Clark 65C received the mace, and six months later he was the first president of the student body to carry the mace in a Commencement procession—a tradition that continues to this day.

In 1967–68, the student body restructured its governance by abolishing the Student Senate and establishing the Student Government Association (SGA), whose constitution was approved by President Atwood and the University Senate. The first SGA president to carry the mace at Commencement was Walter “Sonny” Deriso 68C 72L.

By happy coincidence, this year Sonny was also the first former president of the student body to march in the Commencement procession with the Corpus Cordis Aureum, the Golden Corps of the Heart—alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago.

Here Sonny shines in his golden robe with (left to right) Bob Goddard, chair of the Emory board of trustees; outgoing SGA president Gurbani Singh 18B; and President Claire Sterk.

50-year mace reunion

Commencement reminds us, as Dooley, says, that “students may come and students may go, professors may come and professors may go, presidents may come and presidents may go, but Dooley goes on forever.”

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The ball in the open teardrop at the top of the mace indicates the globe and is divided by stippling to connote the nine schools of the university. The cross on top signals Emory’s relationship to the United Methodist Church. Dooley watches over all.

Gary Hauk

Emory and “A Perfect Mess”

Stanford professor David F. Labaree, a social historian who writes about education, has published a short and engaging book about American higher education. He sums up his take on the industry with the book’s title–“A Perfect Mess” (University of Chicago Press, 2017). His thesis is that the rise of American colleges and universities to a position of dominance in the ranks of the best in the world could not have been predicted in the  nineteenth century. True, by 1880 the US had five times as many higher ed institutions as all of Europe, and Ohio alone had three times as many as the UK. Yet these American colleges held about as much promise of triumph as a go-cart at the Indy 500.

Unsurprisingly, the story of most  American colleges through the nineteenth century sounds like much of the history of Emory back then. Scores of small colleges founded by religious denominations were isolated in rural areas or tiny towns. Presidents and faculty members wrestled with a constant shortage of funds and relatively small enrollments. The faculty often were clergy first and scholars second, many of them having attained little more than a BA degree and rarely a doctorate. As many as half the students failed to graduate, not necessarily for want of brains but for the need to earn a living as farmers, merchants, or even professionals in work that required less formal education in those days (law and ministry especially).

The location of Emory College in little Oxford, Georgia, and then the establishment of Emory University in Atlanta underscore two observations Labaree makes.

The first observation is that the founders of the liberal arts colleges in the nineteenth century often chose rural areas or small towns for their schools out of a belief in republican (small r) values–the integrity and individualism of the small landholder, the family-like ethos of community, the nurturing of civic and religious habits, and a suspicion of the corrupting influence of commercial centers in large cities.

All of these principles seem to have motivated the founders of Emory College, who not only set their college two miles from the center of Covington but also created a new town as a buffer against intruding vices. (Initially each residential lot in the college’s town, Oxford, was offered on a lease of 999 years, with stipulations that the lease would be forfeit if the property were used for games of chance or selling of “spirits.”)

Labaree’s second observation, though, points to a curious and often-unremarked-upon fact about the location of Emory University. He comments that many nineteenth-century colleges were founded by civic boosters who wanted to increase the value of their property. “Settle in East Podunk–we have a college!” I think something of that strategy was at work in Asa Candler in 1914.

By 1914, when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was looking for the site for a new university, wariness of city vices still persisted among many Emory supporters, and they made a strong case for keeping the college at Oxford while allowing the university’s new professional schools to take advantage of access to lawyers, doctors, business leaders, and clergy in the city. In the end, the trustees thought it made more sense to have the college and the professional schools on the same campus in Atlanta.

Curiously, though, that campus in Atlanta began with seventy-five acres that Asa Candler carved out of his suburban development in Druid Hills. What better way to ensure the marketability of his massive real estate plan than to carve a bucolic university campus from the woods and fields right next door?

This is not to minimize Candler’s genuine philanthropic impulse or his indispensable largess. But his biographers have always noted that his deep and extended civic engagement with Atlanta, as well as his commitments to church and university, never diminished or got in the way of his always-functioning business savvy. He was ever, in the apt title of Kathryn W. Kemp’s book about him, “God’s capitalist.”

Gary Hauk