Emory alumnus Ren Davis has a personal connection to one of the more remarkable stories of Emory University’s service to the nation. He is the grandson of Edward Campbell Davis, MD, who a century ago was serving as a professor in the school of medicine in the relatively new Emory University, when the United States entered World War I. Dr. Davis also was co-founder, with Dr. Luther Fischer, of the Davis-Fischer Sanatorium, which later became Crawford Long Hospital and later still Emory University Hospital Midtown.
Ren has published the compelling story of his grandfather’s response to the call to serve. You can read it here, in the Saporta Report, the excellent online journal created by longtime Atlanta business reporter Maria Saporta.
My thanks to Ren for allowing me to point my blog readers to his story.
This week (April 24–29) Emory Law School is ratcheting up the year-long observance of its centennial with a weekend celebration. The school opened its doors as the Lamar School of Law on September 27, 1916, bearing the name of Emory’s then-most-illustrious alumnus, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (see my post from January 1, 2016). On Saturday, the 29th, the school will honor another eminent alumnus, former US Senator Sam Nunn 62L. Former President Bill Clinton will speak at the gala dinner.
Happily, history will be remembered. The school has invited me to give a talk to alumni on Saturday afternoon, and the challenge has been finding ways to limit the storytelling to 40 minutes. There’s much to tell.
For instance, the decade of the 1930s brought to Emory Law women and men who would go on to have a profound impact on Emory, Atlanta, Georgia, and the nation. It was a decade of stars: Patricia Collins Butler 31L, Henry Bowden 32C 34L, Boisfeuillet Jones 34C 37L, Randolph Thrower 34C 36L, Ben Johnson Jr. 36C 40L.
Pat Butler was one of the 175 makers of Emory history celebrated during the University’s 175th anniversary in 2011. When she died at age 101, in 2009, she had left a trailblazing legacy. Although she graduated second in her class in 1931, she struggled to find a job in Atlanta but was hired to establish the antitrust library for the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. She went on to work for sixteen attorneys general, and with the case Johnson v. Shaughnessy, in 1949, she became one of the first female lawyers to argue before the Supreme Court. Together with Chief Justice Warren Burger she founded the Supreme Court Historical Society in 1974. May I add that while Emory law women were succeeding in the world, it would take Harvard Law until 1950 before it admitted its first woman, by which time Emory had graduated 25.
I can’t help wondering whether the social dislocations of the 1930s shaped the way these women and men viewed society and their responsibility for making it more just, more fair for everyone.
Just one more story for today—that of Randolph Thrower 34C 36L.
If you want to hark back to the politics of a different era, consider the life and legacy of Randolph Thrower. He was a Republican in a Deep South state that had been run by Dixie Democrats since the end of Reconstruction. To get a sense of how things have changed, note that as a Republican he drafted the 1969 Tax Reform Act that raised taxes on capital gains, and he was a founding member of the Lawyers Group for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization launched by President Kennedy to provide legal support for the civil rights movement. In 1987 he was a member of the ABA’s first Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, which was chaired by an Arkansas lawyer named Hillary Clinton—who, appropriately, was the first woman to deliver the Thrower Lecture, endowed at the law school in his honor. The enduring mark of his integrity and commitment to the rule of law, however, was his being fired as IRS Commissioner in 1971 by Richard Nixon for refusing to use the IRS as a weapon against Nixon’s enemies.
Like Pat Butler, Randolph Thrower had surpassed his own century mark by the time he died peacefully at home in 2014. Centennials abound!
Pardon me for trying to grab your attention à la The National Inquirer or some click-bait headline. But when I came across these images in the Stuart A. Rose Library, I was stunned and wanted to share them.
Ever since I first laid eyes on the tower next to the dam in Lullwater Preserve, more than thirty years ago, I have wondered what it looked like in its glory days. Below is its current condition.
See here for a closer view. Note the vegetation on the far bank. Behind it and to the right of what you can see in the photo rises the Atlanta VA Hospital along with its parking decks.
Walter Candler, Emory College Class of 1907, was the youngest son of Coca-Cola founder and Emory benefactor Asa Griggs Candler. When Walter began developing his 183-acre estate in 1925, DeKalb County had not fully developed its electrical grid, and county power did not extend to the house, which Candler occupied in 1926. He thus had to generate his own power with the help of the dam that he built across the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, shown above. Machinery within the tower cranked out electricity. The generating equipment has long since been removed, and the tower has fallen to rack and ruin.
Below is what it looked like when newly built.
Note the bridge over the dam, which was removed in the early 1990s because it had become hazardous. In the distance, where the VA Hospital now stands, a horse pasture spreads toward Clairmont Road. And there are two of Candler’s horses!
Most magnificently, the pointed roof sports clock faces—in case you got to wondering what time it was while fishing the stream.
The photographer who took the old photo, possibly in about 1930, turned around and then took the photo below. The dam is now to the photographer’s back.
The wooden bridge in the photo straddled a stream that flowed in from about where the road vanishes in the distance. That stream is now known as Earnest Richardson Creek, after the long-time caretaker of Candler’s estate. Beyond the stream lies a low pasture, and beyond it rises an embankment topped by a white fence. Farther still rises a hillside. Lullwater House, the English Tudor-style home that Candler built, now the home of Emory presidents since 1963, stands at the top of the high hill whose base rises up to the right of the photo.
At some point, Candler decided to dam Richardson Creek at about the lower left corner of the photo to create a lake that would fill in that far pasture. Below is the same view, taken in January 2017. The vehicles belong to an Emory Campus Services crew removing fallen trees near the dam.
The photo below shows the dam that created the lake.
Note that the far bank of the lake still is topped by the dirt road that was there in the earlier photo, but the distant hill is entirely wooded. Those woods are part of the “Emory Forest” whose preservation is part of the long-term sustainability plan for the campus.
Robin Thomas, who graduated from Emory College with highest honors in Italian studies in 1999 and now teaches art history at Penn State, sent me news that Marion Luther Brittain’s house is being demolished in Midtown Atlanta to make way for an office tower, hotel, and residences.
Brittain (1866–1953) was one of the 175 “makers of Emory history” celebrated during the University’s 175th anniversary observance in 2011. An 1886 graduate of Emory College, he served as state school superintendent from 1910 until his appointment in 1922 as the fourth president of Georgia Tech, from which he retired in 1944. In 1942, Brittain donated funds to Emory to create the highest student award for “recognition of unselfish service to the University,” an award named for him.
Brittain lived in this house with his family between 1911, when it was built, and 1922, when he moved into Georgia Tech’s presidential home.
The impressive columned façade gives entrée to a spacious interior, which was divided into four apartments after the Brittains moved out.
It’s sad to see another old, historic home disappear from Atlanta’s inventory. Happily, plans are underway to restore, rather than demolish, another home on the National Register—Buddie Candler’s Briarcliff mansion, owned by Emory.
Emory colleagues Kathryn Dixson and Gretchen Warner have a gift for making material from the archives more eye-catching than a Macy’s store window on 34th Street. They design and mount exhibits in Emory’s Rose Library and Schatten Gallery, and for the last couple of years they have graciously added to their work the display case on the first floor of the Administration Building.
Two weeks ago, in time for the holidays, Kathy and Gretchen created a display of the beautiful Christmas cards that Emory philanthropist Robert Woodruff used to send. In case you can’t get to the Administration Building, I share parts of the display here.
Beginning in 1924, the year after Woodruff became president of the Coca-Cola Company, he and his wife, Nell Hodgson Woodruff, sent annual Christmas cards.
Initially graced with holiday images, the cards soon featured photos of Ichauway, the South Georgia plantation the Woodruffs bought in 1929 as a vacation refuge and bird-hunting retreat.
In 1941, however, the Woodruffs began a new and magnificent holiday tradition featuring the commissioned paintings of Ichauway’s birds by Italian-born artist Athos Menaboni. By the time of Robert Woodruff’s death, in 1985, Menaboni’s paintings would grace the front of 44 Woodruff Christmas cards. A number of reproductions of these paintings are housed along with Menaboni’s papers in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory. The cards themselves are among the Robert W. Woodruff papers in the Rose Library.
The card for 1968 bore only Robert’s name on the inside. His beloved Nell had died in January of that year, less than a year after Emory named its school of nursing in her honor. The couple of green-winged teal shown in the card poignantly suggest the long flight of life that Robert and Nell had shared, for more than 55 years.
The last Woodruff/Menaboni card appeared in 1984, featuring the great blue heron.
Woodruff died on March 7, 1985, and Menaboni lived another five years, dying on July 18, 1990, at the age of 94.
In the spirit of beauty and grace reflected in the Menaboni cards sent by the Woodruffs, I take the occasion to wish you a merry Christmas and a peaceful, happy new year.
It stood above the campus like a sentry, as if to guard against drought and keep watch for welcome rain clouds on the horizon. In my recollection it was always blue, though not Emory blue–more like the blue of a robin’s egg.
It should have been painted white, with trompe l’oeil stippling to mimic the look of a golf ball. Because after I heard someone refer to it as “the Bobby Jones Memorial,” I could never again see it as anything but a golf ball on a tee. (Bobby Jones was the Emory alumnus who graduated from the law school in 1929 and went on, the following year, to become the only person ever to win the grand slam of golf.)
The tower was installed in 1933 and made it into the pages of the November-December 1933 Emory Alumnus.
By 2007 the water tower, in terms that Bobby Jones would have been familiar with, had become a waterless hazard. It had not held water since the 1980s, and improvements to maintain its structural integrity were estimated to cost several hundred thousands of dollars. While realigning Eagle Row to make way for new residence halls, the university dismantled the tower and recycled its steel.
I learned recently that Mathew Pinson, senior director of development in the Candler School of Theology, has a personal connection to that bygone tower. His great-grandfather, Bryan M. Blackburn, was employed by R.D. Cole Manufacturing Company in Newnan, Georgia, when he patented the design of the hundred-thousand-gallon tank. Mathew shared images of the design that was approved by the US Patent Office on February 20, 1934 (after the tower had been installed at Emory). The patent and the catalogue from the R.D. Cole Manufacturing Company are in the Pinson family archives.
Great-grandfather Blackburn was a member of the twenty-fifth graduating class of Georgia Tech and began developing this design while he was a student.
Great thanks to Mathew for sharing these design images and the information about his ancestor.
Curiously, Emory University was not the only Emory with a water tower that resembled a golf ball on tee. Check out the one from Emory, Texas, below. I believe ours was built first–and unfortunately had to be removed first.
As the Emory Law School prepares to celebrate its centennial beginning in September, a critical question came in from the publisher of the school’s celebratory book—accent or no accent?
The accent in question has inconsistently hovered over the second e in the name of Emory Law’s first female graduate: Eléonore Raoul.
Raoul was also the first woman to be formally enrolled in Emory. Legend has it that Chancellor Warren Candler was away from the campus that day in 1917, when Miss Raoul walked from her mother’s home at 807 Lullwater Road to have a chat with the dean of the new law school in Druid Hills. The chancellor opposed coeducation. Raoul was 29 years old and active in the women’s suffrage movement. She saw no reason why a law degree should not be available to a bright woman who had studied at the University of Chicago. And neither did the dean. By the time the chancellor returned, the ink was dry on Raoul’s enrollment form. She graduated in 1920, the year the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
But back to that accent. Raoul was the youngest daughter of the railroad magnate William Greene Raoul, whose work brought him eventually to Atlanta, where he built a magnificent house on Peachtree Street that did not survive the 1980s. Born on Staten Island in 1888, Eléonore descended from French nobility. Raoul de Champmanoir was the original family name.
She grew up among a formidable set of siblings who would go on to careers in manufacturing, farming, charitable enterprises, and political activity. One sister graduated from Vassar and another from the Pratt Institute.
Apparently independent from the start, Eleanore, as she was named at birth, changed the spelling of her name at the age of 24 to Eléonore. At least that’s what I had always thought. But evidence on the web and in publications suggested the possibility that that was wrong. The finding aids for the Rose Library at Emory have it as “Eleonore,” without the accent. But photos available online have captions with different spellings, including “Eleanor” and “Eleanore.”
I had never actually seen her signature. So to the archives I went. The trove of Raoul family papers is large and fascinating. And, happily, I found what I was looking for.
In 1928 Eléonore married a man who had graduated with her in 1920, Harry L. Greene, but she continued to use her maiden name throughout her life in business and professional matters. Here’s an instance of her signature the year after her wedding, on the flyleaf of the financial ledger that covers her checking account for the next two years.
Aha! The accent over the e!
Eleven years later, in 1940, she printed and signed her name with the accent in a document for Trust Company of Georgia.
I go to the library next week to pore over more personal correspondence of this fascinating woman, to whom Emory granted an honorary LL.D. degree in 1979, four years before her death at the age of 94.