Wednesday, October 27, 2010


No self respecting campus should be without its resident haunts and specters, and Brockport does have its share, in our very own Hartwell Hall! Or so the stories go...

Jennifer Valitis was a student here and did a very interesting project for a folklore class with Virginia Weiss in 1993. The project involved interviewing two custodial staff in Hartwell Hall concerning the stories about ghosts in the building.

The folks interviewed had a number of stories about things like hearing voices in hallways, when no one was around other than the one staff person, or seeing a shadow move behind a glass door, and on opening the door not finding anyone in the room...

One ghost is supposed to be that of someone who died in the building. No one has ever died in Hartwell Hall, but Julius Bates, the first principal of the school died in the building which preceded Hartwell Hall, in the 1840s.

Another ghost is said to be that of someone who drowned in the pool in Hartwell (years ago there was a swimming pool in the basement of Hartwell.) Again, no one ever died or drowned in Hartwell - but a workman, Edward Rowley, did drown in an accident in the 1880s when the cover of a large cistern collapsed and he fell in. (The cistern was behind the old "Normal School" building and supplied water to the building.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Technology changes are nothing new...

It may seem like things are changing a lot with computers and the Internet, and they are, but people in years gone by experienced change too. An example from the 1950s  is shown here. Three librarians, Stevens, McCrory and McPherson, are standing around a brand new microfilm machine in the library, which at that time in the 1950s occupied the center section of the 2nd floor in Hartwell.

Microfilm was invented long before the 1950s, but it was only after WWII and the growth of higher education that took place then that microfilm really came into its own. Libraries needed more and more materials, and one space efficient way to house newspapers and magazines is to film them onto a roll of film.

Not so long ago, at least not so long to your blogger, a major portion of the back of the main floor of the library was taken up by banks of microfilm readers, and masses of file cabinets housing thousands of rolls of microfilm. As part of his job one of the technicians in the AV/Tech unit would periodically visit the library to adjust the readers, replace bulbs etc. We even had some portable microfilm readers that came in a briefcase set up that you could check out!

We still have some of those materials and readers, but so much is available online nowadays that microfilm no longer has the central place it once did. One wonders what current cutting edge technologies of today will seem as quaint in the future as the microfilm machine does today?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Archives Ribbon Cutting Ceremony !

The college archives, which are housed on the ground floor of Drake Memorial Library, moved into a new and bigger space this summer. Please join President Halstead, Mary Jo Gigliotti, college archivist and all who "cherish this heritage" at the official opening of the space this week Thursday at 11:30.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Faculty Athletes of Yesteryear

In the March 15, 1933 Stylus there is a fascinating article about two faculty of the day and their athletic careers. They were Charles Cooper,  director of student teaching and the campus school, and Alfred Thompson, the "principal" or president of the school.

Charles Cooper had played baseball at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania where he played on the baseball team with fellow student Christy Mathewson, who later became a  famed pitcher with the NY Giants in the "dead ball" era. Cooper also played football in an era when the game was even more physically dangerous and challenging than now, and the article noted that he still carried scars from a game with the "Indians," that is the team from the Carlisle Indian School (think Jim Thorpe...)

Alfred Thompson was a lineman on the Yale football team in the 1880s in the infamous era of the "flying wedge," when injuries to players were common and they were even several fatalities. Thompson was also on the Yale rowing team, and coached the football team at Brockport in the years before  WWI., at which time declining male student numbers and controversy over the violence of the game led to football being abandoned, not to resume until the late 1940s.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heading west...

For over a century of the college's history the campus was the original 6 acre plot donated by village founder Hiel Brockway. Much of that time there was just the one academic building, Hartwell Hall being only the most recent in a line of such buildings. (One earlier building burned in the 1850s, the successor building was torn down to build Hartwell in the late 1930s.)

Ernest Hartwell wanted, in the late 1930s, when a new building was being planned (which later was named for him,) to not build it on the current spot but to move west, beyond Kenyon Street, where there was open land available. It was decided to build on the original plot however, and it fell to Hartwell's successors, like Donald Tower, to see the school move west and acquire land for new buildings and facilities.  Following is an aerial shot looking west from Hartwell in 1958.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Textbooks & a pack of smokes

Some things sure were different once upon a time, for example in this picture of the campus bookstore in the '50s, when you could buy cigarettes there, as well as other personal items. Of course, this was the same era when cigarette salespeople were welcome to visit the student union and pass out 5 cigarette sample packs of Lucky Strikes etc.! (Note the L&M cigarette ad displayed in the upper left of the photo.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

When they lived at West Hall

Our last post about basket boarding drew a response from a reader who was a student here in 1950 and basket boarded. It prompted us to think of West Hall as well, and here is what the catalog of the late '40s tells us about this temporary women's dorm that was built.

To better understand, one must realize that Brockport was largely the same size school for decades, a student body of less than 1000, attending a school that was basically the one building. After WWII though higher education enrollment took off in a dramatic way, and Brockport, like other schools, entered into an exciting period of growth for the next 20 years.

"In the fall of 1948, West Hall, a temporary dormitory for women, one block from the College, was opened for occupancy.  West Hall houses 112 women students, 98 freshmen and 14 upper-classmen who serve as counselors.  A resident manager is in charge. Other women students of the College reside in carefully selected homes in the village.  Regulations governing rooming houses are set up by the State and by the College Committee on Housing.  Satisfactory conditions as to heat, sanitation, lighting, furnishings and social features of each home are checked before the house is recommended as a student residence. Men students live in similarly approve rooming houses in the village or in the veterans housing project.


  • Room in West Hall $180 a year

  • Rooms in private homes $150-180 a year

  • Apartments in veterans housing for married vets $18 monthly

  • Rooms in housing for single veterans $16 monthly average

  • Estimated College cafeteria prices Breakfast $.30 per day Lunch $.45 per day Dinner $.75 per day