Monday, January 9, 2012

Major Photo Update

Cowles Hall Renovation

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Work on the chapel is moving forward at an almost breakneck pace. A large portion of the wood paneling is up and the stained glass windows are going in this week. You can see them in a couple of the photos provided above. The windows are back lit so when the lights are turned on, I will show you what they look like.

I have found two interesting passages from an Iris yearbook dating back to 1897. The first is a fun anecdote and the second is an interesting piece about Elmira College's history. Both take place during the College's founding years. The first tale is as follows:
"One fall in those first years there was a famous rebellion. When the girls returned after the vacation, they found that the butter used on the table was of very bad quality and that the winter supply of the same kind had been put in. Remonstrance proved in vain. By some pretext, one of the girls obtained the key to the storeroom and at midnight of the same evening, tub after tub of that obnoxious butter rolled down the hill and fell with a splash into the lake. Next morning in the chapel our honored president, after gravely stating his views of the escapade of the night before said, in conclusion, that he would see the guilty parties in his study at a certain hour, although he would mention no names and would leave it to their honor to report there. At the hour appointed the president answered a knock at his door and found, to his surprise, the entire college assembled outside to acknowledge the deed of the night before."
The other piece has to do with the College's original name for first-year students.

"Elmira was chartered by the legislature in 1855, ten years before Vassar. Her first class graduated in 1859. At the time when Elmira was founded there were only two co-educational colleges in the country, at Oberlin and at Lima. There was no college for girls alone, and no model on which to form one. For example, Dr. Cowles was rather afraid of calling the first class of girls the Freshman class, and so coined a word for it, calling it the Protomathian Class. It was not until ten years later, that at the founding of Vassar, the two presidents agreed to call it the Freshman class, irrespective of sex. The Lady Principal was at first called the Principal Preceptress, but this seemed a clumsy term and Dr. Cowles again coined a word which has been rapidly and universally adopted."

Many things have changed over the years. For the next blog, I will give you a brief list of them. One thing you may not have known is that at one time, there were sororities on campus.

1 comment:

  1. I am actually sadden a bit to see the old Cowles interior gone. I remember stories of how it looked in the 1920s. I have fond memories of running up the stairs in the 1970s, sitting in the octagon lounges, and staring at the tin wall coverings. I remember alumnae returning and asking if such-n-such a room was still cold! (And the answer was "yes".) I know that it is becoming a building for the future, yet I hope that when I see the new Cowles that it will have elements to remind me of its long history.