Ever felt like someone was watching as you travelled through the colonnades that join Bosworth Hall and Asia House? Look up. The engraved eyes on the faces of former presidents, faculty, and medieval monks are gazing at you.
The west stone columns are adorned with the carved likenesses of Robert Brown, professor of practical theology and human relations from 1929 to 1938; Ian Hannah, professor of church history from 1917 to 1925; George Fiske, professor of theology and religious education from 1907 to 1937; and 14 other former Oberlin members.
The installation of faces and people onto buildings is in direct relation to the era and styles of the time. The college's Quadrangle—which includes Asia House, Bosworth Hall, and Fairchild Chapel—was designed by architect Cass Gilbert who chose historical models with a stylistic reach from medieval Romanesque to Renaissance Classicism for Oberlin’s landscape.
According to an article in the spring 1996 issue of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine written by John Kearney ’93, most of the faces were mounted to columns after the Quadrangle was completed in 1931 and continued until 1966, with one exception. Danforth Professor of Religion Clyde Amos Holbrook was added in 1990.
The original sculptures were carved by the Donnelly Brothers, the firm who also worked on New York City’s St. John’s Cathedral and Grand Central Station, reported Kearney. The plan was to include carvings of all faculty members of the graduate school, but the firm believed it would take too much time and instructed the Brothers to use the heads of monks instead.
This week’s photo series provides a mini-tour of the colonnades and some of the faces that adorn them.
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