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Records of the College of Arts and Sciences (Group 9)
[25] Records of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1903-1988, 130 l.f.

Administrative History

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 day.

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.

[26] Records of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, 1899-1992, 58 l.f.

Administrative History

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 subgroups—I. Administration, II. Exhibit Files, III. Publications and Publicity, IV. Clarence Ward Records, V. Associations, Organizations and Conferences, and VI. Art Department—the 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 permanent collection.

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 of Architects.

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 Architecture" (1981).

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. Harrison—the architect who designed Hall Auditorium in 1953—displayed 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.

[27] Records of the Department of Physical Education, 1886-1989, 81.7 l.f.

Administrative History

The fundamental principle of physical education at Oberlin College—which 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 in 1911.

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 Warner—now a relic by modern athletic facility standards—led 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 columns.

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."

 
 
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