Category Archives: new attention on old item

Campus myth debunked: Mathias not based on prison

(This piece originally appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of the Tutt Library Chronicle newsletter.)

As Colorado College Archivist, I am supposed to know something about the history of CC. In the past couple of years several students have asked for the details on the architects who designed Mathias Hall – architects who, according to everybody, were known for designing prison buildings. I’ve also heard from more than one student that Mathias was designed to prevent riots – that the purpose of its maze-like hallways was to stop students from gathering together in political protest.

Both rumors are patently false. The Texas architecture firm which designed Mathias Hall (and Olin Hall, in 1961) – Caudill Rowlett Scott – was never responsible for any prison building. It does, however, have a historical reputation for originating design principles that led to some really ugly school structures.

Mathias, at 123 East Uintah, was built in 1966 for a total cost of $1,700,000. It was named for Henry Edwin Mathias, a CC Geology professor and administrator. In its early years, this huge residence hall for over 300 young men was known as “Superdorm” – or, sometimes, “Superwomb,” since many of the residents had been living off campus but were required to come back to mother CC.

In 1969, by student vote, the building went co-ed – the first dorm on campus to do so. At first, the floors were sexually segregated, but by 1977 even this rule was thrown out – and in 1988, all caution was thrown to the wind – or rather, a new kind of caution came into play – and condom dispensers were installed in the hall’s bathrooms.

And now back to the building’s architects. William Wayne Caudill of CRS was a Texas architect and teacher who made educational buildings his specialty. In the 1940s he coordinated a project to optimize natural airflow and daylight in schools, and by the 1960s his firm had an international reputation for good school design. CRS branched out to hospital design, but schools remained their specialty.

An early memo from Vice President W.R. Brossman, who was in charge of the project to design the new dorm, states that the rooms should be “attractive and non-institutional.” Another report gives insight into some of the money-saving possibilities available to the architects: “The Committee is opposed to ‘gang showers’ and would like to investigate further ideas on attractive single units.” This same report also suggests “a sundeck or sunning area must be provided or else the residents will climb to the roof.”

If Brossman, or anyone on the committee, was worried about riot prevention, this was never stated in any written documentation that has survived in the Archives – and it seems unlikely that it was a major concern, since CC students were not known to riot, even in the 1960s.

In a recent article in Harvard Design Magazine (“Environmental Stoicism and Place Machismo,” Winter/Spring 2002), author and Urbanism professor Michael Benedikt credits CRS for both improving and screwing up school buildings all over the United States. According Benedikt, it was Caudill’s 1954 book Toward Better School Design that “began the school design revolution.” The book recommended natural lighting and “visual openness to the outdoors” – i.e., lots of windows. (Side note: CRS also designed CC’s Olin Hall, also known as the “Fishbowl” for its many windows.)

At the same time, however, Caudill’s core design principal were efficiency and fast construction, and over time, according to Benedikt, these principals “devolved” into those that drive the soulless school building designs – environments “barely better than a minimum security prison” – still popular today. Benedikt goes on to say that “primary and secondary education may rightly be compulsory, but this should not mean that the sites of education should be like penitentiaries.” I’m sure he would agree that college dorms have the same prerequisites.

The Nob Hill Observatory

Harvard astronomer Edward Pickering had ties with CC’s Nob Hill Observatory!

This is the only known photograph of the Nob Hill Observatory, taken about 1905. We believe it was located around 2112 East Uintah, currently “Lunar Park.” (Both “Nob Hill” and “Knob Hill” spellings were in use; CC seems to have used “Nob.”)

Pickering visited Colorado Springs in 1887, accompanied by his wife Lizzie, his brother William, and Anna Palmer Draper. They were here to consider Pikes Peak as a site for an observatory. (See Dava Sobel’s 2016 book The Glass Universe for details.) Frank Loud, CC professor of physics, soon got involved. Here are two newspaper articles about that visit:

In 1903, CC began planning for its own observatory, and in 1904, Loud, Pickering, and three others (Herbert Howe, Edward Giddings, and Otis Johnson) formed The Western Association for Stellar Photography. It’s likely Pickering participated from afar, as his signature does not appear on the early documents. We can see from the By-Laws and Minutes that the instruments at Nob Hill belonged to the Harvard College Observatory.


I wish we knew more about the conversations Loud had with Pickering. I wonder if they talked about having CC women catalog the stars. (Pickering hired many women for this purpose at Harvard, among them Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt.)

Stokely Carmichael / Kwame Ture at Colorado College

In Spike Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman, based on Ron Stallworth’s memoir Black Klansman (Flatiron Books, 2018), the Colorado College Black Student Union invites Stokely Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) to speak on campus in the early 1970s.

Did that really happen?

YES! But not exactly in the way the film suggests.

In real life, Carmichael / Ture visited Colorado Springs in 1977 and spoke at Bell’s Nightingale Club. According to the memoir, Stallworth attended that event, but it was not connected to CC in any official or documented way.

Two years later, the Black Student Union at CC sponsored a visit. Carmichael / Ture spoke on campus in the lounge of Bemis Hall on April 12, 1979.  One local newspaper (the Colorado Springs Sun) described his subject as “The Plight of African People in America and What Must Be Done”; the CC student newspaper (the Catalyst) gave the title as “College Students and the American Socio-Economic Order.”

Seven years after that, the Black Student Union invited Carmichael / Ture to campus again. He spoke at on April 22, 1986 in Packard Hall.

 

1918 Flu at Colorado College

Here we are in April of 2020, undergoing a global pandemic, with Colorado College students distance-learning, and CC faculty and staff mostly working from home. Naturally, I’ve been getting some questions (via email) about the closest thing we have to a parallel situation in CC’s history, the 1918 flu pandemic.

We learn from Robert Loevy’s 1999 book Colorado College: A Place of Learning (p. 111):

“In the fall of 1918 an influenza epidemic swept the United States, and Colorado College was not spared. Eight of the young men in the Army radio school died in one month, and a young instructor in Physics, William W. Crawford, also succumbed to the disease. The College was quarantined by the local Health Department, classes were suspended, and Ticknor Hall was converted into an infirmary for the large numbers of ailing military personnel. … The influenza quarantine was lifted on December 13, 1918, and classes quickly resumed.”

The Colorado College student newspaper of the time, the Tiger, is digitized and freely available here:  https://archive.org/details/tigerstudentnews21colo/page/n5/mode/2up. The front page of the October 4, 1918 issue has this headline: “No Necessity for Closing Classes Yet.” The December 6 issue of the Tiger, however, states that classes closed on October 4. Presumably, then, the paper came out just as the situation changed drastically.

The October 11 Tiger has “Epidemic of Influenza is Practically Arrested,” and in the weeks following, headlines include “Epidemic of Influenza Slowly Losing its Grip,” “Only 18 Patients Left in Hospital in Ticknor Hall,” and “Radio School to Re-Open Monday Morning.” These cheery headlines hide the fact, revealed in the issue of December 8, that by October 5, five men in the SATC (Students’ Army Training Corps) had died, with more to come. Additional influenza outbreaks occurred in the winter and spring, with somewhat less-severe quarantine restrictions and no further deaths at CC.

Reading through the 1918 paper, I found similar instructions to today’s. People aren’t to gather in large groups; if you are sick, you’re to stay home. The October 15 issue recommends the use of a mask with this rhyme: “Cover up each cough and sneeze, / If you don’t you’ll spread disease.”

There’s also evidence of dark humor: the October 18 issue contains this rueful aside under the headline “I Beg Your Pardon, Sir”: “We understand that we missed the chance of a life-time in the last Tiger by not having one of the prominent headlines read thusly: EPIDEMIC OF INFLUENZA LOSES ITS GRIPPE. Perhaps so, but we quit calling it the grippe after the second funeral.”

Not all the men who died are identified in the student newspaper, but I found these names: William W. Crawford, Private Carey, Private Leland James, Abe Chayuten, and Private A. F. Kerns.

I’ll end with the paper’s gratitude for the work of medical staff, from the October 18 issue:

“Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon Mrs. Weinshausen and Mr. Hartog, who, with their corps of nurses and assistants so defeated this menace threatening the health and life of every
soldier in the unit. Considering the fact that fully 200 patients were treated, the mortality rate was unusually light. As soon as the hospital was well organized, all men having the least symptom of the influenza were cared for until completely cured. It is due to this fact that the disease was so successfully and completely checked in a comparative short time.”

Useful Tips to Keep You Out of the Asylum

In blocks 7 and 8, two Colorado College classes (Tomi Ann Roberts’s Feminist Psychology of Embodiment and Tricia Waters’s Women and Madness) visited Special Collections to view our mini-exhibition, Books About Sex. (Subtitle: “These books may be about sex, but we can’t promise you will find them sexy”).  In addition to the materials in the display, students looked at 16th-century-and-forward health manuals such as the two described here, annual reports of the the Colorado State Hospital, 20th century books on how to please your husband, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood pamphlets, and more.

Students imagined what they would highlight if they were doing their own exhibitions. One student noticed that some women, but never any men, were admitted to the then-named Colorado Insane Asylum in the 19th century because of “domestic trouble.” Another student looked for what we would now call “consent” in Marabel Morgan’s 1973 advice book The Total Woman. Yet another student pointed out that the women in the exercise illustrations in Sex Revelations and the New Eugenics (1936) wore high heeled shoes and very little else. We all appreciated the “Remedy for Hysterics (or Mother-Fits)” in John Homan’s 1856 Long Lost Friend: A Compendium of Mysterious & Invaluable Arts & Remedies, which involves pressing one’s thumb against one’s chest and reciting “Matrix, patrix, lay thyself right and safe…”

A possible title for the classes’ imaginary exhibitions emerged: “Useful Tips to Keep You Out of the Asylum.”

 

Keep Calm and Amy On

Special Collections has moved from Tutt South to the newly renovated Tutt Main (soon to be just plain Tutt). We are currently open by appointment only, hoping to return to regular hours by August 1 or earlier.

It was quite an odyssey getting the books and other materials, including a huge heavy map case, from one building to the other.

     

Special Collections Coordinator Amy Brooks managed 90% of the move while Curator Jessy Randall was cleverly out of town on a long-planned vacation.

Huge thanks to Amy, Tutt South wranglers Lesley Mackie and Diane Westerfield, and book escorts Sarah Bogard, Chris Curcio, Julia Drescher, Nicole Gresham, Lisa Lister, Annette Magneys, Mike McEvers, Courtney Morgan, Jeremy Nelson, Daryll Stevens, Claire Trissel, and Pam Willock. We could not have done it without each and every one of you. Congratulations to these hard workers and the PSI book movers on a successful and safe move!

Images above show anonymous graffiti written during the move on walls in the soon-to-be-demolished Tutt South. Amy was too tired to even notice:

Pictures of our new digs to come when it’s a bit more photogenic than it is now. Our current view looks like this:

All photos by Tutt Library staff.

Chenoweth postcards at the Fine Arts Center


Colorado College Special Collections lent 27 postcard collages by Mary Chenoweth to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center this year.

The postcards were donated to CC by Peggy Marshall and Mike Duffy and dated 1980s-90s. They were on display at the FAC from February 18 – May 21, 2017.

The exhibition was fantastic! The postcards were hung from the ceiling and sandwiched inside plastic so that viewers could see both sides.

in celebration of International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, we uploaded our finding aids to the collections of the papers of three women:

Lillian de la Torre, 1960, courtesy CC Special Collections

Lillian de la Torre, 1960

 

Writer and Playwright
Lillian de la Torre (1902-1993)

 

 

 

 

 

Inez Johnson Lewis, undated, courtesy CC Special Collections

Inez Johnson Lewis, undated

 

Educator, Superintendent of Schools, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Inez Johnson Lewis (1875-1964)

 

 

 

 

 

Marianne Stoller 1977, courtesy CC Special Collections

Marianne Stoller, 1977

 

Colorado College Anthropology Professor Emerita
Marianne Stoller (1929-2015)

The History and Future of the Book

piso dodo piso squirrel

Special Collections student assistant Anna Wermuth blogged her experience in The History and Future of the Book half block class, January 2016:

That Special Something

Why Art (When It’s Tedious)?

Under Press-ure

(The dodo and flying squirrel illustrations are from our copy of Willem Piso’s De Indiae Utriusque re Naturali et Medica Libri Qvatvordecim, published 1658. Anna refers to them in her first post, “That Special Something.”)