Alumni returning to Emory often exclaim—sometimes lamenting, other times just flabbergasted—how the campus has changed since their student days.
In the past fourteen years alone, the University has built nine residence halls, two new theology buildings, three medical education or research buildings, one for public health, a new home for admissions and the bookstore, a new psychology building, new sorority lodges, and at Oxford a new science building, new library, and new dining hall. Not to overlook sundry smaller projects like the traffic circle and new entrance in Emory Village.
Nothing, however, gives a sense of the changing landscape like a view from the sky.
While we don’t have an aerial photo of Druid Hills before the Atlanta campus was built, we do have an architect’s vision of the campus as it nestled into what had been “the old Guess place.”
The original 75 acres given by Asa Candler straddled two hills divided by streams and covered with pine woods. To turn this rural landscape on the edge of Atlanta into a university campus, the trustees hired the inimitable Beaux Arts architect Henry Hornbostel. He found the hills and pines of the Emory terrain reminiscent of Tuscany and hit upon an Italian neo-Renaissance look, with marble façades, red-tile roofs, broad eaves, and Roman arches for doors and windows.
Using bridges to cross the streams and connect the hills, he laid out the academic heart of the campus on a hill that is now the Quadrangle, with a farther hill set off for living, dining, athletics, worship, and other social activities. While the design was too expensive to implement fully, the first buildings, opened in 1916, included the Theology Building and Law Building (lower center of the photo) and the Physics Building (now Callaway Center South), to the left of the tall tower, which was never attempted. The sole residence hall designed by Hornbostel and still standing is Dobbs Hall, shown in this design in the center of the semicircle of buildings to the left. Emory Village would grow up at the V shown at the lower edge of the photo.
The photo below, probably taken in 1922, shows why William Dillingham 55C 56G, professor emeritus of English, remarked about his student days, “When I came to Emory, it was a small school in a forest.” The campus had been even more remote three decades earlier, as the woods and fields of DeKalb County stretched north and east of Druid Hills.
The two buildings swathed in construction scaffolding in the upper right corner are Wesley Memorial Hospital, later renamed Emory University Hospital. These buildings, completed in 1922, replaced the hospital’s original home in downtown Atlanta.
Two campus landmarks help to date precisely the photo below—one landmark by its presence, the other by its absence.
Glenn Memorial Church, shown in the lower center of the photo, was constructed on the Emory campus in 1931, the gift of board chair Charles Howard Candler Sr. 1898C 1902M and his wife, Flora Glenn Candler. What’s missing from the photo is the water tower that was installed in 1933 near where the tall boiler smokestack rises above the athletic fields. (See blog post of October 3, 2016.)
The end of World War II and the benefits of the GI Bill sparked an unprecedented growth in the student body and faculty at Emory. To accommodate all the new people, the University built in a frenzy while using trailers and wooden barracks for temporary space. The forest began to give way. The History Building (1951, now Bowden Hall) in the center of the photo below and the Woodruff Memorial Research Building (1952) to the left of the hospital help date this photo. Missing is the Administration Building (1955), which would close off the western end of the Quadrangle, still very wooded in the lower center of the photo. Note the water tower rising from the trees above the athletic fields.
As the Baby Boom hit Emory in the 1960s, the campus began to sprawl. Cox Hall (1960) appears in the photo below, above the hospital buildings; off to the right rise the new buildings of the Centers for Disease Control, which moved to Clifton Road in the 1950s. Missing from the photo is Robert W. Woodruff Library, which in 1969 would take another large bite out of the woods toward the lower-left corner of the photo.
Later aerial photos would show even more dramatic growth—as well as the loss of some of the buildings shown above. Thus—lament and astonishment!
Gary S. Hauk