Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The original bridge

Years ago, before the roofed pedestrian bridge that runs over the railroad tracks between Brown and Allen was constructed, there was another bridge. This original bridge was a more bare bones affair, and did not offer those walking over the protection of a roof. On a pleasant day it was rather nice, with the breeze and view, but in the winter, with the ice and snow, or on a rainy day, well, you can imagine how it might have been! This is a photo of the bridge from 1977.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carte de Visite photos of Brockport Faculty

Sometime in the 1870s a number of "carte de visite" photos were made of Brockport faculty. These sorts of photographs were very popular in that era, you have likely seen some, even if the name isn't familiar. They were simply small size photos, usually 2.5" x 4", mounted on card stock. Something similar in size to baseball cards for example. They were easy to send through the mail, they complemented the calling card expected in that era, and were widely used.

Some of those done of Brockport faculty over 125 years ago still survive, and are part of our archival collections. Pictured here is one of them, a portrait of Jane Lowery, who was a teacher of Mathematics and Latin here for many years, and was also an 1870 graduate of the school. Miss Lowery was much respected by her students and colleagues. An interesting personal note is that she was the sister in law of Charles MacLean, the principal of the school, and lived in what is now Alumni House with her sister and brother in law!

She was one of three teachers memorialized in a commemorative plaque dedicated in 1906. The plaque was in the old Normal school building, then Hartwell Hall, and was recently restored by Duncan Chase of the Art Department. An article in the Brockport Republic from 1906 on the plaque follows:

“The program at Normal Hall, Monday evening, marking the exercises of unveiling the portraits of Prof. McLean and Dr. Smith and the tablet in honor of Prof. Burlingame, Miss Chriswell and Miss Lowery were carried out in a most successful manner. Besides the speakers, the stage was occupied by the full Board of Trustees of the Normal school, the designer of the tablet and Principal McFarlane.

   The evening’s program was as follows: ‘Pilgrim’s Chorus,’ Dossenbach’s orchestra, Prof. McFarlane, after a few pertinent remarks explanatory of the occasion, introduced Rev. William D. Holt, of Cincinnati, O. Nr. Holt, who is a very is a very pleasant speaker, held the attention of the audience for about twenty minutes while he paid a glowing tribute to Prof. McLean who for thirty years was principal of the school. He gave many instances of the unbounded generosity of Prof. McLean, the assistance he rendered to many of the students, and the untiring work for the improvement of the school buildings, which now stand as an undying monument to his memory.

   Mr. Holt was followed by Miss Wadsworth, who rendered a piano solo, "Gondoliera,"in a faultless manner.

   The next address was by Hon. John D. Burns, who in his usual pleasant but forceful manner, spoke of Dr. Smith, who for three years was principal of the school. He recalled the great executive ability Dr. Smith brought to the school. He spoke of the strenuous efforts put forth by the gentleman for the betterment of the school and how they were crowned with success; of his genial nature, the making of his home a general reception room for the students where they might enjoy free converse. To such men, said the speaker, may be attributed the great success and popularity of the Brockport Normal School.

   An address by Mr. Thomas H. Armstrong, of Rochester, was replete with memories of the three teachers — Prof. Burlingame, Miss Chriswell, and Miss Lowery — who "died in the harness" after devoting many years to the service. "As we have watched the nation grow to be rich and powerful so have we watched this school grow to be one of the largest and most complete in existence," said the speaker. "And for this evident success we are indebted to the careful training and watchful care, the indefatigable patience and energy of such teachers as we have spoken of. We do not rank them as we would a soldier or hero, but as patriots in the great cause of education.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"You are here..." 1949

This is a campus map from 1949. The bulk of the college was made up of Hartwell Hall and some temporary buildings on the side of Hartwell, by the railroad tracks. Otherwise there was a "girl's dorm," the infamous West Hall, to the west where Seymour is today. West Hall was a frame building that was notorious for being drafty and cold. The college athletic field to the west was just that, fields, no Tuttle, no SERC. Notice that off Kenyon, behind Hartwell, are a West College St. and a Millard St. This was a residential neighborhood, with a number of homes, and a small store. When the post WWII expansion really got going in the '50s and '60s all of this would change dramatically.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Freshman Hazing

To the college students of today it is quite startling to hear that at one time hazing of freshman was a common practice at colleges, including here at Brockport. The photo on display shows some members of the Class of 1967 being hazed on the sidewalk outside the dorms on Kenyon Street in the fall of 1963. This hazing took part in one way or another from as early as the 1920s up into the late 1960s. The "beanies" were a post WWII addition to things!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Vertical Librarian

Once upon a time, before the WWW transformed the Internet, libraries typically maintianed a "vertical file." This was a usually a set of file cabinets, with folders organized by subject, containing all sorts of materials; maps, flyers, government brochures etc. In a way it was the same sort of free ranging information source as the Internet, only physical, not virtual.

This blogger once took care of our vertical file as part of his duties. Part of the job involved going through a monthly publication called the Vertical File Index and writing off for various free materials. On one occasion we received in reply an envelope addressed to the "Vertical Librarian." Would be in contrast to a reclining librarian? ;-)

Pictured here is librarian Carol Timby at the vertical file in the old Drake Library, now Rakov. The older library had been in Hartwell Hall on the second floor, and then a new building just for the library was built in 1961. With the expansion of the college in the '60s we quickly outgrew that and the current Drake building was finished in 1974.

Monday, August 18, 2014

She was Brockport Music

Pauline Haynes was Brockport music for many years, in part because she was the only music faculty member in 1925 when she started here, and for a number of years after. By the time she retired in 1966 Brockport had gone from being a small Normal school with a single music teacher to a much larger comprehensive liberal arts college, complete with a music faculty of eight members who she had recruited and mentored.

She was from Plattsburg, and attended the campus school at Plattsburg Normal as a child. After college at Skidmore she studied at the Thomas Whitney Surette school in Concord Massachusetts, then taught in the Princeton, New Jersey public schools for two years, and from there came to Brockport.

A popular faculty member, her encouraging and sensitive manner made her sought after by students and faculty alike. She directed the music for special events and campus productions for many years, including the Christmas Vespers programs which were extremely popular among both the campus and village communities. An excellent pianist, she was also long remembered for her fashionable and elegant sense of style. A room in Alumni House is dedicated to her memory.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


"On the walls of the old Normal School
The Wisteria hangs in clusters of
fragrant blooms,
White and wan in the silver moonlight,
Deepings to shades of lavender
When the morning sun strikes through the trees,
Climbing on and on until it flings its
joyous arms
About the highest stone of all that
lofty hall,
And runs down in rippling cascades
of delight,
Calling to the passer-by to behold and

Anonymous, Stylus, 1930.

(The poem refers to the old Normal school building, an set of stone buildings that stood about where Hartwell Hall is today. The image here is one that appears in several years of the early 1930s yearbooks.)