Friday, August 5, 2011

Dartmouth Hall

Dartmouth Hall was built between 1784 and 1792 to replace College Hall, which had fallen into disrepair. The process took so long because of problems with funding. The final building was somewhat smaller than that envisioned by Eleazar Wheelock, though it was still a massive building for its day. The final structure stood 175 feet long by 52 feet deep. As Scott Meacham notes in his book Dartmouth College: An Architectural Tour, Dartmouth Hall was the College. It served as dormitory, classroom, library and museum. Later, in 1829, a chapel was also added. In addition, it also served as a place to hide the townspeople’s cows, a form of protest devised by the students who did not like having them pastured on the Green. In 1895 the architects Lamb & Rich added electric lights and steam heat, though this proved to be the building's undoing.

In February 1904, Dartmouth Hall burned to the ground in a matter of minutes. The cause of the fire was found to be faulty wiring. The building was rebuilt with gifts from alumni. The final cost of the reconstruction was about $100,000. One request for donations distributed by Dartmouth Trustee Melvin O. Adams '71 states, "This is not an invitation, it is a summons." Adams' letter gives a sense of the importance the alumni attached to Dartmouth Hall. By October of the same year, the cornerstone for the new building was laid. William Legge, the sixth Earl of Dartmouth, a descendant of the British nobleman for whom the College is named, came to the campus for Dartmouth Night to participate in the ceremony. The new Dartmouth Hall was built as a replica of the original building, though it differs in some significant ways. The exterior is brick instead of clapboard, the building was enlarged slightly and some architectural details were changed. The rebuilding of Dartmouth Hall took two years and it was not until 1906 that it was open and ready for use.

In 1935, the upper floors of Dartmouth Hall caught fire again. Since the insurance company paid $79,000 for the cost of the damage, the Board of Trustees decided to gut the entire building and make it 100% fireproof, a process that required the application of steel and concrete to reinforce the interior of the building. In the end the fireproofing cost the college another $200,000. The funds not covered by the insurance came from alumni donations.

Today, Dartmouth Hall serves as an academic building as well as an icon of the College's early years.

Ask for the following Vertical Files to learn more: Dartmouth Hall Fires and Rebuilding; Dartmouth Hall (Old); Dartmouth Hall Bells; and Dartmouth Hall Clock.

And these Photo Files for images: Dartmouth Hall 1, 2, 3 and 4; Dartmouth Hall Fire (1904) and Reconstruction 1 and 2; Dartmouth Hall Fire (1935) and Reconstruction; Dartmouth Hall Interior; Dartmouth Hall Laying Of Cornerstone; Dartmouth Hall (Old) 1, 2, 3 and 4; Dartmouth Hall Opening (February 17, 1908).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Story of a Puppet

The story of Pinocchio is one that is familiar to many people, in part, thanks to the 1940 Disney film. But even before Disney, The Story of a Puppet, or the Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi was an international success.

First published in serial form by Collodi (whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini) in Italian from July 1881 to January 1883, the book was not originally intended for children. In its first form, Pinocchio died by hanging at the end of 15 chapters. Collodi’s editor urged the author to change the ending, resulting in chapters 16-36 in which the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair rescues Pinocchio, resulting in an ending more suitable for children.

The story first appeared in book form in 1883 and quickly became a best seller. Unfortunately, Collodi died in 1890 and did not get to see his story become an international success. Here is a recently acquired first English edition of the book. As with many children’s books, first editions, particularly first printings as this is (indicated by the title and illustrated half title printed in black and red), tend not to survive their early owners, making them particularly rare.

This edition of Pinocchio will be joining several other copies already in our collection and will provide an interesting contrast to later interpretations. Pinocchio tells the story of a marionette who wishes to be a real boy. Populated with fairies, talking crickets and other fantastical creatures, this book is another of the many “secret gardens” created by early children’s authors.

The book is on display in the Rauner Reading room right now, but you can always see it by asking for Rare PQ4712.L4 A713 1892.