|Records of the College of Arts and Sciences
| Records of the Dean of the
College of Arts and Sciences, 1903-1988, 130 l.f.
In 1904, Oberlin College President Henry Churchill King reported
to the board of trustees that a distinct head of the College of
Arts and Sciences was needed to unify each department and to give
the faculty attention the president was unable to give. In 1906,
the board granted his request, naming Charles E. St. John, a member
of the Physics Department, as the first Dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences. The dean was to preside over the system of councils
which governed Oberlin College and to chair each department council,
each of which were to be responsible for departmental budgets. In
1910, the responsibilities of the dean were set and included studying
the problems of college education and keeping abreast of the general
progress in the field; primary responsibility for carrying out all
policies and regulations adopted by the departmental faculty and
council; and recording significant data concerning the scholarship,
life and interests of the student body. These duties remain to this
Scope and Content
The main body of architectural information in this record group
deals with administrative and social history and is contained in
Subgroup II "Administrative Records." Series 2 "Budgetary and Fiscal
Records" holds general information on the budgets and expenses for
living in college-owned housing and private boarding houses for
the years 1917 to 1956. There is a significant amount of information
on Oberlin's housing and dining cooperatives. Included are a preliminary
draft plan and budget for the first cooperative house on campus;
a statement from the Co-op Building Committee; and information on
cooperative dormitory buildings including the proposed building
of a women's dormitory. Series 4 "Files of Other Administrative
Units" contains a report on the Venturi and Rauch addition to the
Allen Memorial Art Museum. Series 8 holds separate subject files
containing budgets, reports, and sketches on several college buildings
including: Allen Memorial Hospital, Hales Gymnasium, Hall Auditorium,
Mudd Learning Center, Severance Hall, the Skating Rink, and a proposed
recitation hall dating from the early 1930s.
| Records of the Allen Memorial
Art Museum, 1899-1992, 58 l.f.
Before the erection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) building
in 1916-1917, the College's studio art classes were held in French
Hall, 1867-1885, and in Society Hall, 1885-1917. A handful of classes
was offered through the Department of Drawing and Painting, called
the School of Art from 1888 to 1896, and then the Department of
Fine Arts after 1912. In 1995, the Department of Art offered nearly
50 courses that served over 1,000 students.
In the 1890s Professor Adelia A. Field Johnston advocated the
construction of an art building and museum space. A growing art
collection, notably the receipt of a number of handsome acquisitions
from the Olney Collection, occasioned the need for the building.
The site of Stewart Hall, torn down in 1915, and an adjacent lot
belonging to the College provided a location for the Allen Art Building.
The June, 1917, opening of the new Dudley Peter Allen Memorial Art
Building, designed by Cass Gilbert and funded by Elisabeth Severance
Allen Prentiss (Dudley P. Allen's widow), gave a large boost to
developing a standard program for art collection and education.
The structure provided housing for major art acquisitions, adequate
exhibition space, a library of books and slides for students and
faculty, as well as classroom and studio space. Constructed of buff
sandstone with red sandstone panels and a heraldic frieze supported
by rose colored marble columns, the AMAM is a prime example of Gilbert's
penchant for Renaissance and Romanesque styles. The building is
adorned with a red tile roof, and features an open, colonnaded cloister
joining the museum to a single-story studio building to the rear.
In 1937 a new classroom, office, and studio wing designed by Clarence
Ward was added to the art building, while the library moved to the
entire second floor of the museum.
Over the next three decades the Museum provided a home for the
patronage of donors such as Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss,
R.T. Miller, Jr. (A.B. 1891), and other connoisseurs of art. By
mid-century the AMAM was among the finest art museums affiliated
with a liberal arts college. In 1952, the Intermuseum Conservation
Association (ICA), housed in space provided by the Art Department,
was founded as the nation's first cooperative art conservation laboratory.
Spatial needs for education, exhibitions, the museum's permanent
collection, and the ICA created the need for another addition by
1970. The AMAM addition, designed by Robert Venturi and John Rauch,
was dedicated in January, 1977. Employing Venturi's self-described
style of post-modern "messy vitality," the Addition integrates itself
with Gilbert's "Beaux-Arts" structure, sharing roof lines and sandstone
shades, but is distinguished by its checkerboard facade and multiple
levels. It increased museum exhibit space by 50 percent with the
installation of the Ruth Coates Roush floor (first level), the Clarence
Ward Art Library, and the Ellen H. Johnson Gallery of Modern Art.
Scope and Content
Organized around six subgroupsI. Administration, II. Exhibit
Files, III. Publications and Publicity, IV. Clarence Ward Records,
V. Associations, Organizations and Conferences, and VI. Art Departmentthe
most relevant records are found in five record series of subgroup
I. These series are Series 2 "Director's Correspondence," Series
4 "Other Correspondence," Series 11 "Buildings and Grounds Records,"
Series 13 "Topical Files," and Series 14 "Art Building Construction
Papers." Documents here detail the administrative, developmental,
and design history of the museum complex, specifically those records
relating to its construction in 1916-1917, the 1937 Clarence Ward-designed
annex, and the 1977 Robert Venturi and John Rauch addition. The
assorted papers,1916-1949, of Professor Clarence Ward document his
career as an artist and architectural designer during and after
his tenure as director of the museum. Notable among his correspondents
are architects Cass Gilbert, Richard Kimball, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Among Museum Director Ward's correspondence in subgroup I are
21 letters, 1917-1933, to and from AMAM architect Cass Gilbert.
These letters document Gilbert's involvement in final construction
details for the museum. (See also series 14 noted below.) Correspondence
relative to Gilbert's plans for Hall Auditorium is also filed here
due to Ward's consultations on the building's design. Series 4 of
subgroup 1 also contains the incoming correspondence, 1936-1937,
of architect Richard Kimball, who designed Hales Memorial Gymnasium
for Women. Dedicated in 1939, Ward and William Hoskins Brown contributed
to the design for Hales, as well.
Less significant in volume is the correspondence of architect
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1922-1924. These records in series 2 mainly
report on a Japanese print materials exhibition held at the AMAM,
and on an architectural monograph regarding works in the Museum's
Series 11 "Building and Grounds Records," 1936-1937
and 1964-1982, contains materials relative to the construction of
the 1937 Art Museum Annex designed by Clarence Ward, the 1977 Venturi
and Rauch addition, as well as a few items regarding 1953 design
plans for Hall Auditorium. Included in these seven boxes are Ward's
correspondence, 1936-1937, with faculty committees and contractors,
detailed construction reports, design considerations, newspaper
and magazine inquiries and articles regarding the 1937 annex, and
Trustee and Art Faculty Committee meeting notes. Ward's 1936-1937
memoranda concerning revisions and specification changes, three
photographs documenting the 1937 construction, and a 15" x
25.5" color-coded tracing paper design study of the floor plans
of the proposed auditorium (n.d.) are also found here. Of special
significance is the 1936-1937 correspondence regarding Ward's
status as an architect as qualified by the Ohio Board of Examiners
Later items to be found in series 11 document the design and planning
phase for the controversial AMAM addition, 1969-1977, by Venturi
and Rauch. These documents mainly report on budget itemizations
and project funds, 1970-1974; detailed HVAC specification booklets
and addenda, 1974-1975; planning meeting minutes between the architects
and the development committee, 1972-1976; and an undated historical
timeline of the "Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College."
Not to be overlooked is the 1966 needs analysis report for the museum,
the 1969 preliminary design ideas and floor plans as submitted by
other architects, the 1973-1974 tentative design and construction
schedules, and the ca. 1973 preliminary floor plan submitted by
Robert Venturi for staff review. Some researchers may find the voluminous
correspondence with the architectural firm of Venturi and Rauch,
1970-1985, helpful in general ways. Materials also consist of booklets
for the museum addition's January, 1977, dedication, an architect's
vision statement, and the remarks regarding the museum complex's
design and development phase. In a clippings file one will find
magazine, architectural journal, and newspaper articles that cover
the 1977 addition from local, national, and international publications,
1976-1983. Biographical materials also exist here for Ward, Ellen
H. Johnson (d. 1992), Hazel Barker King (d. 1960), and Wolfgang
Stechow (d. 1974).
For those interested in how this large building, rich in Renaissance
associations and arrangements, has withstood time, there are assorted
maintenance reports. Included also are detailed 24" x 36"
diazo-print plans for the 1982-1983 roof repair and loading-dock
enclosure projects, diazo-print site plans/revision elevations (also
24" x 36") for handicap modification and further roof repair,
1978-1980, and reports documenting the March, 1980 "Humidity
Crisis." Facility program notes, correspondence, and information,
1973-1974, from the Intermuseum Conservation Association, headquartered
in the Art Building complex, are located in series 11 as well.
In Series 13 "Topical Files" is one folder labeled "Architecture
in Oberlin (1979-1982)." Consisting of published historical articles
about College architecture by Oberlin History Professor Geoffrey
Blodgett, this series also includes memoranda concerning architect
consultation and the formation of a "Standing Committee on Campus
In 1990 the College Archives received the construction files of
the original building from the registrar of the Allen Memorial Art
Museum. Somewhat badly deteriorated, these files required preservation
photocopying in order to replace original documents with photocopies;
exceptions were made when a document included a penciled drawing(s).
Series 14 "Art Building Construction Papers, 1915-16" is significant
in that it specifically reports on the work of Cass Gilbert and
George Richardson Harlow, who supervised the construction of the
AMAM. The latter's correspondence and memoranda, which provides
a first-hand glimpse into the minute details of the construction
process, is the final series to be reported on from subgroup I.
Of peripheral art and architectural interest are museum exhibition
materials arranged chronologically within subgroup II, Series 1
"AMAM Exhibits." Specifically, this series documents three exhibitions
of architectural content: "Wallace K. Harrison Buildings," November,
1953-February, 1954; "Forty Under Forty: Young Talent in Architecture,"
April, 1968; and the "Clarence Ward Memorial Exhibition," January-February,
1974. These files contain collections of exhibition catalogues and
publicity, museum registrar's planning correspondence, technical
notes, and external reviews. The Ward exhibit featured the artist's
photographic collection of French Gothic Architecture, mostly gathered
in the 1930s on European trips with Oberlin College Photographer
Arthur E. Princehorn (b. 1904). The exhibit for Wallace K. Harrisonthe
architect who designed Hall Auditorium in 1953displayed photos
and drawings for Harrison's more notable designs, such as the United
Nations Secretariat Building in New York City.
Finally, from the series of "Bulletins" published by AMAM, researchers
will want to consult Christine Dyer, et al, eds., "Building Utopia:
Oberlin Architecture, 1833-1893," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin
16 (1983-1984): 1-72.
| Records of the Department
of Physical Education, 1886-1989, 81.7 l.f.
The fundamental principle of physical education at Oberlin Collegewhich
sought "education through both the mind and the body"pre-dated
the construction of Oberlin's first Men's Gymnasium in
1861. Protestant minister John Jay Shipherd, one of the College's
founders, defined the principal objective of a manual labor program
as one that would augment "health, bodily, mental and moral,
the student's support; and the formation of industrious and
economical habits." Appropriately, the need for athletic facilities
grew as manual labor gave way to rudimentary gymnastic exercises
after the Civil War period, and then to formal physical education
programs by the 1880s. By the early and middle 20th-century, physical
education at Oberlin would evolve in its own right, requiring the
continued construction and expansion of facilities for individual
male and female students and intercollegiate athletic teams.
In 1861, the College's Student Gymnasium Association presided
over the construction of the first Men's Gymnasium, which was
torn down in 1867 to provide space for Society Hall; in 1873 the
same group erected the second Men's Gymnasium. In 1877, the
College assumed direction of the gymnasium and required all students
to participate in gymnastic exercise, excepting those who performed
two hours of manual labor per day. The first formal program of physical
education at Oberlin began in 1885, when the College employed Delphine
Hanna, M.D. (1854-1941) to coordinate health training and exercise
for the College's female students. Calisthenics were held,
unsupervised, in Ladies Hall and Music Hall. In 1881, a small 29'
x 44' gymnasium-type exercise space was added to the side of Ladies
Hall. John D. Rockefeller donated an adjacent skating rink in 1895.
Before she retired in 1920, Hanna taught an array of classes for
male and female students. She developed a physical education departmental
major by 1901; and, she was the first woman in the United States
to hold a college professorship in physical education.
During the late 19th-century, team sports at Oberlin such as baseball,
football, and basketball began to flourish with the general expansion
of all college athletics. With this growth came the need for expanded
facilities. In 1901, Warner Gymnasium, designed by Chicago architect
Normand Patton, was erected for the Men's Physical Education Department
replacing the 1873 structure (second Men's Gymnasium). Built of
Ohio sandstone, it was erected on the site of the older gymnasium,
and stood three stories high with an attic. The main gymnasium was
on the second floor, with a running track suspended from the roof.
In addition, the basement provided ball cages and handball courts.
Oberlin's first indoor intercollegiate competition was held at Warner
in 1902. An addition to the north end of the building was added
Following Charles W. Savage's appointment as director of athletics
in 1905, a new phase in Oberlin athletic facility construction and
use began. During Savage's tenure as director (1905-1918, 1920-1935),
Oberlin College erected and dedicated both the Stadium Grandstand
designed by Cass Gilbert and Galpin Field by 1925, and constructed
Crane Pool in 1931. The pool was designed by Oberlin graduate Claude
W. Stedman (1887-1962, A.B. 1908) of the Cleveland firm Walker &
Weeks. Although built primarily for the Women's Physical Education
Department, Oberlin's male students were allowed partial use of
the Crane Pool. This represents, perhaps, the College's first co-educational
athletic facility, as the men established a varsity swim team within
a year and shared near-regular use of it thereafter.
Oberlin College purchased Dickinson Field, named for benefactor
Julia A. Dickinson, to provide an area for women's intramural sports
in 1908. The first Dickinson House at 166 W. College St., also purchased
in 1908, served as a field house until it was torn down in 1924.
The second Dickinson House at 166 W. Lorain St. functioned as a
field house for women between 1924 and 1931. When Gertrude Moulton,
M.D. (1880-1964), was named director of the Women's Physical Education
Department, she lobbied for, and received, a women's athletic facility
with the building of Hales Gymnasium in 1938. It was initially designed
by Oberlin professors Clarence Ward and William Hoskins Brown, although
the final construction design of Hales was supervised by New York
architect Richard Kimball. Built of Indiana limestone, Hales reflects
a modernist functionalism complemented by a classical symmetry.
Some regard it, however, as an example of the influence of airplane
hangars on gymnasium designs. In 1958, a bowling alley designed
by Oberlin graduate Herk Visnapuu (b. 1920, A.B. 1950) was added
to the eastern edge of the structure.
The need for athletic facilities continued into, and extended
beyond, the 1940s. The Jones Field House, a war surplus building
erected in Oberlin in 1948, was a former World War II navy drill
hall in Camp Perry, Virginia. New York architect Eldredge Snyder,
who supervised its adaptation to an athletic facility, added the
lobby and team locker rooms, even connecting the Field House to
the Stadium. A mobile wooden floor covered the Field House's dirt
floor, and with stands to seat 1,800, the Jones Field House hosted
Oberlin's basketball games from 1948 to 1971. Demand for athletic
space at the Field House, Hales Gymnasium, and Warnernow a relic
by modern athletic facility standardsled to calls for a new facility.
By 1963, Physical Education Chairman Lysle K. Butler '25 convinced
President Robert K. Carr of the necessity for replacing Warner Gymnasium;
the architectural firm Hugh Stubbins & Associates of Boston
was commissioned to consult on the planning program and for the
final design. This planning led to the Jesse Philips Physical Education
Center, dedicated in 1971. It provided a cornucopia of athletic
usages, including squash and handball courts, new swimming facilities,
and a large multipurpose playing space for basketball, volleyball,
and tennis. To encourage participation in intramural indoor team
sports, moveable stands were included in the design. Philips also
included new offices for the athletic faculty, training rooms, and
a physiology laboratory.
Although the facade of rectangular brick columns and dark glass
windows nicely suited the campus' architectural environment, planning
for the two-story, 115,000 square foot building was short-sighted.
It included only limited space for women's lockers and showers,
even as the Women's Physical Education Department merged with the
Men's Department in 1969 and soon fielded its own varsity intercollegiate
sports teams. Architectural planning did not anticipate Title IX
of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972, which mandated opportunity
of access for female athletes and sports teams. Even though organized
athletics and physical education at Oberlin College was started
by a woman and intended for women, over time the pattern of facilities
development was skewed towards men's sports and athletic competition.
The most recent athletic facility to be erected at Oberlin is
the John W. Heisman Field House, dedicated in October, 1992. The
facility houses four tennis courts and a 200-meter NCAA-regulation
running track, and is large enough for the soccer, lacrosse, and
field hockey teams to hold practice indoors in the case of inclement
weather. Designed by Spellman Farmer of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
the building was constructed by the Schirmer Construction Company.
Located just west of Philips Gymnasium, the Field House complements
Philips with a repetitive exterior design of brickwork and angled
Scope and Content
Spanning the years 1886 to 1989, and organized around eight subgroups,
the records of the Physical Education Department document the evolution
of physical training programs for men and women at Oberlin College.
Included in this record are files relating to the design, construction
and expansion of campus physical education facilities. Materials
holding architectural information are primarily found in Subgroup
I "Administrative Files," and Subgroup VI "Department of Physical
Education for Women."
Architectural records in Subgroup I "Administrative Files" are
located in Series 3 "Correspondence" and Series 10 "Facilities and
Equipment." Arranged chronologically, architectural correspondence
consists of 14 letters, 1913, to and from New York architect Cass
Gilbert, and 10 letters, 1912-1914, to and from the Olmsted Brothers,
landscape architects from Boston. Both sets of correspondence emanate
from the office of Athletic Director C.W. Savage. The files relate
to the proposed Oberlin College Grandstand and enlarged athletic
fields. Gilbert's correspondence documents the transfer of sketches
and plans specifically for the Grandstand adjacent to the stadium,
while the Olmsted Brothers correspondence details technical design
considerations for the athletic fields surrounding the Grandstand.
Materials in Series 10 "Facilities and Equipment," 1889-1973,
report on athletic facilities construction and maintenance. They
consist of working drawings and architectural perspectives, program
notes and floor plans, as well as cost estimates, proposals and
prospectuses detailing departmental program needs for the new facilities.
Physical education facilities discussed here include the Crane Pool
for Women, 1931; Jones Field House, 1948; the Oberlin Skating Rink,
ca. 1928; Oberlin College tennis courts, ca. 1931; Philips Gymnasium,
1971; the Stadium and Athletic Field, 1925; and Warner Gymnasium,
1901. Also found within these records are miscellaneous newspaper
and magazine clippings relative to the construction of these facilities,
as well as scattered correspondence with Boston architect Hugh Stubbins,
who designed Philips Gymnasium. Many drawings, the bulk of which
are assorted blueprints, 1913-1947, are unique.
Architectural records held in Subgroup VI "Department of Physical
Education for Women" consist of assorted correspondence, topographical
surveys, proposals, prospectuses, budget itemizations, and an array
of working drawings and blueprints, most relative to the 1939 construction
of the Hales Gymnasium when Gertrude Moulton was director of women's
athletics. Correspondence includes communication with architect
Richard Kimball, 1937-1938, who supervised the construction of Hales
Gymnasium; a 1924 letter from Cass Gilbert relative to sketches
of a new field house; and a 1927 letter of unknown authorship detailing
the needs of a new women's facility. Records also include information
and correspondence relative to construction materials, a booklet
complete with floor plans documenting proposals for the "Women's
Gymnasium and Women's Building," and 1914-1931 plans for improvements
to Galpin Field and the Rockefeller Skating Rink. Of some significance
are the 19 copies of plans and drawings for Hales Gymnasium, 1936-1938,
completed by Oberlin professors William Hoskins Brown and Clarence
Ward, which include detailed floor plans, exterior perspectives,
transverse sections, and material schedules. In addition, photos
of the groundbreaking for Hales on August 9, 1938, as well as miscellaneous
construction views, are located in Subgroup VIII "Non-Print Media,"
Series 1 "Photographs."