Old College in September 2006. The trees framing it have since grown quite a bit.And we'll include some of the buildings clustered around it, cuz many people refer to that whole piece of campus as “Old College,” not just that one building. If you weren't involved with anything Art History, Fine Arts, or Visual Communications, you may never have stepped foot in any them.
Old College Hall was built in 1834, and yes, was the original building on campus, when UD was known as Delaware College. Back in the day, all the young dudes studied there, lived there, and ate there. If you’ve never been inside Old College, I recommend that you take a look next time you visit campus. It’s really a cool, historic building. Come on, between beers, be cultured…
…and actually, this is the perfect place to mention Zofia Smardz’s wonderful 2007 write-up of UD, where she says of Old College, “…arguably the most beautiful building on campus.” Her article is highly recommended reading, and got some great attention when it first hit.
DelaWeather: Trees Be Gone. Now, leading up to the steps of Old College is the Diamond Walkway, installed in 1996. Framing the walkway, were these HUGE trees, hundreds of years old. They were beautiful trees, providing that canopy action over the walkway. That was, until Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which caused severe damage. As with many of the other older trees around campus, they were unfortunately prone to damage and / or disease, and had to be removed. The Old College trees were replaced with stronger, younger trees in 2004, in part paid for by the senior class gift. I’ll tell ya’ though, the loss of those big old trees makes a MAJOR difference, especially when you drive up South College Avenue; Old College was never nearly as “visible” as it is now. It just looks…bare. But the new trees will grow, hey, that’s what trees do.
DelaWeather: No Air! When you’re facing Old College, Recitation Hall is the building to the right of it, and was constructed in 1892. What does this have to do with weather? I’m getting there. If you majored in Illustration or Visual Communications, you lived in Recitation Hall. I minored in Illustration, and had a few classes on the first floor…one of which was an Airbrush class! I’m talking old school airbrushing with actual paint, not “airbrushing” corrections in Photoshop. Our airbrushes ran on compressed air that was stored in these big-ass canisters, kinda like giant scuba tanks.
Well, the class was during Winter Session '94, which was a BRUTALLY cold winter. Relentless snow, ice, and general artic hell. I’ll never forget it. During a really bad winter week, some UD students made a big stink about Delaware being the only college holding classes, within a 100 mile radius. But the school’s counterargument was, what other school has this psuedo-trimester thing like UD does? Where missing one week of Winter Session is equivalent to missing two or three weeks of a regular semester? Well, the half-assed snow removal that winter didn’t help UD’s case.
Anyway, the walk to Recitation wasn’t a big deal for me, as I lived in Sypherd at the time. But here was the thing: it was SO cold in the Recitation, that the air tanks actually lost compression. We couldn’t airbrush, as the equipment wasn’t working…but I believe Charles Rowe was nice enough to give us an extra week or two into the spring semester to finish up our pieces. Thanks Chuck! Oh, and Recitation was renovated in 1995; the room I had my Illustration classes in became office space.
Campus Critter: Bat Attack. Taylor Hall is that building right behind Old College. It was Delaware’s original gymnasium, and people were still calling it “Taylor Gym” up through the mid '90s, even though it had been long in use as a studio art building. Taylor was notorious for being dark and dingy, until a major renovation '94 - '95. Before that, my art friend Mike says he'd fight off bats in there!
Jastak-Burgess Hall opened in 2006. Now, if you’re saying “What is it? Where is it?” then envision this: take the old Sig Ep and Sig Nu houses, connect them into one building, and give it a little facelift. THAT is what Jastak-Burgess Hall is. If you’re like me, difficult to imagine that part of campus without its two very well known fraternity houses. Well, the (now single) building houses the department of Foreign Languages. Do I still need an “invite” to get in?
Rumor: In the 1800s, a student was murdered by being pushed down the steps of Old College.
Dude, this is: False. William Howell was the student, and he was among the first Native Americans to enroll at UD, in 1848. As I read on UD’s site, Delaware historian Judith Pfeiffer researched the death, and pieced together that William Howell actually died of the flu. Oh, and he’s apparently buried in the Methodist Cemetery on New Street!
“My favorite part of Old College is the graffiti etched in the bricks by the main entrance, after you walk up all those stairs. There are some crappy copycats who have recently etched something into the bricks, but the best ones are from the early 1900s. They are so neat and intricate!”
- Christine N, UD '04
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