Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Stony Creek Granite Sites Institutions Yale University - Osborn, Memorial Hall

Yale University - Osborn, Memorial Hall

Osborn Hall


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yale’s Osborn Hall was a Lecture Hall built in 1888 on the Old Yale Campus.  Designed by New York architect B ruce Price and built in 1888, Osborne Hall resided on the corner of Chapel and College in New Haven Connecticut. It is one of the latest examples Gothic style Victorian buildings due to the growing aversion to dark architecture by the 1920s.

It was built as a result of Miriam Osborn’s generous donation of $150,000 in 1887.  She made a contribution to Yale’s President Timothy Dwight designated for the construction of a new lecture hall in honor of her recently deceased husband, Yale Alumni, Charles Osborn.  The building was so magnificent that it became a sight to be seen.   Students faculty and tourists would gather outside to see the glorious architecture.

 Osborn Hall was a place of much controversy in the late 1800’s.  The design was extravagant and went beyond the previous structures in the area.  It was built to imitate a caste with bold color, lavish materials (Stony Creek Granite), and elaborate ornamentation. The building was noticed by everyone.   The new lecture hall also occupied the most “conspicuous corner” on the Yale campus.  This corner was occupied by the famous hangout spot – The Yale Fence, where students, faculty and alumni went to “be seen” and smoke cigars.  Despite many protests Osborn Hall was still built on the site and left room for a new hangout spot along the perimeters of the building; keeping the famed fence intact.  Despite the halls incredible architectural design and esteem, Osborn Hall had many tribulations that eventually forced Yale University officials to knock the building down.  The building was said to be the “noisiest lecture hall ever created.”  It location on the corner of College Square left the classrooms with the constant echo and vibrations from the outside city sounds of the busy New Haven street corner.  Trolleys, street vendors and students were constantly bustling outside, leaving the lecture hall loud and in conducive to any type of learning environment.

 

 For many students, in the years that Osborne Hall was standing, it was the spot where many famous lectures in law and history took place, where they would socialize and the final destination of their graduation march.  By 1920, the Yale President had made arrangements to change the space into a dormitory and change the architecture of the building to one that was more unified with the rest of the campus.  Osborn Hall was torn down in 1926 and replaced by Bingham Hall which occupies the corner today.


In a report from the Yale University President Timothy Dwight he writes, “The plans for the new Recitation-room Building were completed, and the contracts made, early in July 1888.  In consequence of certain difficulties and delays in procuring the desired materials for the work the ground was not broken until August, and the building itself was not begun until September.  The work was been moving forward steadily since the opening of the present Academic year, and is now hoped that the building may be ready for occupancy at, or soon after, the beginning of the next autumn term.  The material used in the construction of this building is the Red-path granite from the Stony Creek quarries, in combination with the Kibble red sandstone from the quarries at Longmeadow.  The building is designed by Bruce Price of New York.  The architecture is in the character of the transition from Byzantine to Romanesque.  When completed, the building will have two stories, with a basement and commodious attic, and will have about twenty-two rooms accommodating from twenty-five to three hundred students.  The location being at the southeastern angle of the College square, the main entrance—a semi-circular podium, upon which is to stand a five-arch portico — will be at the corner of the two streets, and the building will extend 155 feet on College street and 102 feet on Chapel street.  The expense of this building has proved to be greater than was at first contemplated.  It will probably amount to $160,000.  But the same generosity which prompted the original gift has provided for additional outlay, so that the University receives in this case, as in the case of the Library Building, a large and most valuable donation beyond what was so kindly offered at the outset.”

Chateau Frontenac- Bruce Price

Bruce Price was an architect who liked to go above and beyond the expectations.  He began his career with his designs of 40 dynamic Shingle-style houses in Tuxedo Park, Rockland County, NY.  He was famous for his massive and beautiful castle- like structures that stood out in any location.  His designs were opulent and copious with delicate and beautiful ornamentation and materials.  He was an American architect born in 1845, he is well remembered for his designs of Canadian Pacific Railway's Château-type stations and hotels.  An example of his elaborate work similar to Osborne Hall was the Château Frontenac in Quebec.  Price also invented, and patented the parlor bay-window cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad and for the Boston and Albany.  Bruce Price chose to use Stony Creek Granite for many of his projects because of its dynamic color and opulence.

Miriam Osborn was a New York socialite and wealthy housewife in the late 1800's.  However she unlike many of her counterparts was extremely demour and generous.  She had dreams and aspirations that outreached many other women of the time. Osborn Hall was not Miriam Osborn's only project.  She also made sure she left her own legacy behind. After her husband died she became aware of many widows, more destitute then herself, searching for someone to care for them in their old age.  When Mirian died in 1892 her will stated that $300,000 be given to create the Osborn Memorial Home in Rye, New York.  This wish was executed by John Sterling who made sure the same attention to detail was given to this project as had been on Osborn Memorial Hall.  He hired the same new york architect Bruce Price who used the same lavish materials he had used on the Osborn Memorial Hall, including Stony Creek Granite. 

The Stony Creek Granite used for Yale’s Osborne Hall was quarried from the Norcross Brothers/Dodds/ Castellucci Quarry.  The Norcross Quarry was started in 1877 and was primarily used for large scale buildings and projects including: public buildings, educational structures, private residences, business blocks, churches and railroad stations.  Osborn Hall was one of the first buildings to use the granite from this quarry.

The Norcross brothers were James Atkinson Norcross (1831-1903) and Orlando Whitney Norcross (1839-1920).  Orlando Norcross was born in Clinton, Maine and grew up in Salem MA; he was discharged from the Union in 1864 and joined his brother at the Worcester building company in 1868.  The Brothers bought property in Stony Creek in 1887 and became the leading quarry in the area and the only one to operate ever since. Norcross Bros. built what is now Quarry Road which was led from the quarry to the railroad track so that stone could be shipped by rail as well as by boat.

The “Quarrymen’s Union” was chartered in 1891 and contracts were signed by hundreds of Stony Creek workers. The wages in one contract ranged from 21 cents to 35 cents an hour. The men went on strike March 1, 1900 when the company wouldn’t agree to a pay increase.  The strike changed the granite industry for the worse.  Granite was far too expensive to use as a construction material. The Dodd Granite Co. bought Norcross quarry in 1923 and its last big job was for the Department of Commerce Building in Washington D.C. in 1928.

 

Exhibit Idea:

Make an area with pictures of the Osborn Hall, Interior and exterior, the citation from Yale President Timothy Dwight as well as a map of New Haven with the location pinpointed.  Include a story line of Miriam Osborn and a copy of her will.

  


 

Works Cited

1920s, By The. "Yale Bulletin and Calendar." Yale University. 06 Oct. 2000. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Bruce Price." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

DeFord, Deborah. Flesh and Stone: Stony Creek and the Age of Granite. Stony Creek, CT: Stony Creek Granite Workers Celebration/Leete's Island, 2000. 29. Print.

Digital image. Yale Library. Yale, 06 Oct. 2000. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"The History of Branfords Stony Creek Quarries." Welcome to the Town of Branford! Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"MRS. OSBORN'S WILL." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

"The Osborn." Google Books. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

"University of California Press on Behalf of the Society of Architectural Historians." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 32.2 (1973): 104-13. Print.

Yale University. Report of the President of Yale University: for the Year Ending July 1st 1887. (New Haven): (Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor), 1889. Print.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 November 2010 10:30  

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Uncirculated: Shrink wrapped in clear plastic from original Italian publisher, 1999. Ships with fresh samples of sparkling Stony Creek pink granite for historians, collectors, geologists and classrooms. Additional samples available upon request.