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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York

by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher

History of Cornell
Chapter VIII.


The university campus was originally bounded on the north by the Fall Creek road and on the south by President's Avenue. The square, lying between this avenue and Cascadilla Creek, and between East and West Avenues, containing fifty acres, forming now the most beautiful part of the university grounds, and having upon it Boardman Hall, the Chapel, the Sage College, the Armory, the Society Halls, and the professors' cottages along Central avenue, was obtained by purchase in 1872. By later purchases the university land was extended on the north to Fall Creek, and the territory on the south side of Cascadilla Creek, on which Cascadilla is situated, was acquired. The original gift embraced two hundred and seven acres. The university domain now contains about two hundred and seventy acres. The university possessed only a right of way over the newly constructed road which now constitutes Central Avenue.

At the second meeting of the Board of Trustees, held in Ithaca on the 5th of September, 1865, various committees of trustees were appointed; among them was an executive committee, a building committee, and a finance committee. The committee on buildings was authorized to select a site for the university. The location chosen was at that time an uneven shelf of the hill which rose to the east of the city. Upon the level ground, where the Armory now stands, and on both sides of what is now Central Avenue, was an extensive orchard, and a second orchard, in the vicinity of a small farm house, existed on the northern portion of the grounds, south of the Sibley College. A considerable depression existed between Morrill and McGraw Halls, and also between McGraw and White Halls. To the north of White Hall the ground rose abruptly, almost to the height of the present second story. This land constituted the Hon. Ezra CORNELL's farm at the opening of the university. From it a view extends following the winding lines of the valley to the southwest, and over the shores and waters of Lake Cayuga for many miles to the north. Westward across the valley rises a lofty line of hills covered with orchards and vineyards, beautiful in sprint time with showers of blossoms, and at all times exhibiting an endless play of light and shade. Its square fields of forty acres are remnants of the early military survey of the State.

At the meeting of the trustees, held March 14, 1866, $500,000 were placed at the service of the building committee, a sum equal to Mr. CORNELL's entire gift in money, which certainly was not available from the endowment fund nor from the proceeds of the government grant, the use of which was to be "inviolably appropriated to the endowment, support and maintenance" of the university, and "no portion of which fund nor of the interest thereof was to be applied directly or indirectly under any pretense whatever to the purchase, erection, preservation or repair of any building or buildings." In the original law of Congress it was enacted that every State, within five years from the date of the passage of the act, should provide for at least one college; and in the charter of the university, it was required that within two years provision should be made satisfactory to the Regents in respect to buildings, fixtures and arrangements. Few universities have had a fairer opportunity to make all their buildings models of an intelligent taste in art. The future of the university was from the first assured. Unfortunately, the architecture of the new university in its initial and most important features was entrusted to a local architect in a neighboring city, unfamiliar with the finest results of collegiate architecture, and apparently unconscious of the new direction of art in the United States. A picturesque grouping of buildings under a skillful landscape gardener was possible, instead of the traditional arrangement of three buildings in a row, where, as in this case, the architectural front differed from the actual. The eminent landscape gardener whose genius has been manifested in the finest work in his department in America, and has been the admiration of foreign visitors in two international exhibitions, Mr. Frederick Law OLMSTED, was so impressed with the influence which the national system of colleges should exert upon our entire industrial population and upon our educational life, that he published several papers upon how such institutions might meet, not only practical demands, but those of a genuine and refined art taste. In emphasizing this side of the proposed national scientific schools, he stated: "A similar scheme of education was never before proposed to the mind of man in this country or any other. Why not set ourselves about it like men, and institute such means, and only such means as are adapted to our ends?"

Owing to the limited time in which all preparations for the accommodation and inauguration of the new university had to be made, measures were at once taken to erect the necessary buildings. At the third meeting of the Board of Trustees, held in Albany, March 4, 1866, a report of the building committee was presented, and it was voted to commence the necessary building or buildings at the earliest day consistent with the interests of the university. The committee was authorized to procure by purchase or otherwise any building or buildings or land needed near the proposed location of Cornell University suitable for the purposes and uses of the university. Work seems to have been begun at once; for at the following meeting of the trustees, held in Ithaca, October 21, 1866, a contract for the building under construction was mentioned. In the records of the time, we find the architecture of the new building described as Italian Renaissance. The boldness of this euphemism will be the admiration of future students of art. This building was designed mainly for a dormitory for the accommodation of students, which the city could not at that time furnish. The dormitory system seems to have been from the first regarded with disapprobation and only adopted reluctantly, to provide for the needs of the university at its opening. It appears from the records that at this time a building four stories high and 165 feet long by 50 feet wide, with a basement, which had been begun in August, was now so far advanced as to insure the immediate roofing of one-third of the building, and the probable covering of one-third more, possibly of the whole before winter, thereby enabling the work of finishing the interior to go on, and insure completion for use in the coming summer. It is apparent that a purpose existed at this time to open the university in the fall of 1867. On February 13, 1867, the authority was given to erect a second building which should be a duplicate of the first, with rooms in the central division for the use of the faculty. This seems to have been the first provision made to meet the most essential feature of a university, a building mainly for lecture rooms, museums and laboratories. The construction of this building was delayed, for a vote passed November 11, 1869, provided that it be opened, as soon as students from the town should be found to fill it. About this time a building to be devoted mainly to the needs of the chemical and physical departments was begun, although there is no record of its early history. This was the original chemical building which stood west of the present building for dairy husbandry. It was intended to be temporary and was of wood, but admirably designed to meet the needs for which it was erected, and it remained standing until within a few years.

At the opening of the University, Morrill Hall stood alone upon the brow of a hill in an open field. There was no street across the university grounds, where Central Avenue now runs, and no bridge spanning Cascadilla Creek. At the exercises upon the university grounds, when the chimes were presented, the crowds of people ascended the hill through the cemetery or wound along the dusty way which passed the grounds of the present Mcgraw-Fiske house; or the bolder followed the bank of the creek beyond Cascadilla, to a place just north of the site of the present iron bridge, where by climbing half-way down the bank, they reached the top of a ladder which they descended; they then crossed the stream upon two or three boards supported loosely upon timbers, and climbing the opposite bank by a similar ladder, scrambled to the top through brushwood and forest until they reached the open orchard north of the present lodge of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. They then followed the line of a rambling stone wall which marked the boundary of the university property to the west, along the crest of the ridge in front of the present row of professors' cottages on Central Avenue. Two ravines of considerable depth had to be crossed to reach the eminence where the Library building now stands, and where the bells had been mounted on a rough frame work of timber.

We have been permitted to use the accompanying contemporary account of the inauguration of the university, by George William CURTIS, which, however, veils his own graceful participation in that event.

"In the very height of the presidential campaign, one bright autumn morning was hailed in the pleasant town of Ithaca, in New York, with ringing bells and thundering cannon, but for no political celebration whatever. Had the little town, dreaming upon the shore of the lake so long, suddenly resolved that it would justify the classic name with which Surveyor-General DE WITT blessed its beginning, and as old Ithaca produced a wise man so the new should produce wise men? The surveyor who so liberally diffused so Greek and Roman a system of names through the hapless wilderness of Central New York half a century ago, would have smiled with delight to see the town decorated through all its broad and cheerful streets with the yellow and red of autumn, and ringing its bells of joy because a university was to open its gates that day. But old Paris, Salamanca and Bologna, Salerno and Padua, Göttingen and Oxford and Cambridge would surely have failed to recognize a sister could they have looked into Ithaca. Indeed they would have felt plucked by the beard, and yet they would have seen only their fair, legitimate descendant.

The hotels and the streets and the private houses were evidently full of strangers. Around the solid brick building, over the entrance of which was written "The Cornell Library," there was a moving crowd, and a throng of young men poured in and out at the door, and loitered, vaguely expectant, upon the steps. By ten o'clock in the morning there were two or three hundred young men answering to a roll-call at a side door, and the hall above was filled with the citizens. Presently the young men pressed in, and a procession entered the hall and ascended the platform. Prayer and music followed, and then a tall man, spare, yet of a rugged frame and slightly stooping, his whole aspect marking an indomitable will, stood up and read a brief, simple, clear, and noble address. It said modestly that this was but the beginning of an institution of learning for those upon whom fortune had omitted to smile; an institution in which any person could acquire any instruction in any branch of knowledge, and in which every branch should be equally honorable. Every word hit the mark, and the long and sincere applause that followed the close of the little speech showed how fully every word had been weighed and how truly interpreted. But the face and voice of the speaker were unchanged throughout. Those who best know what he had done and what he was doing, knew with what sublime but wholly silent enthusiasm he had devoted his life and all his powers to the work. But the stranger saw only a sad, reserved earnestness, and gazed with interest at a man whose story will long be told with gratitude and admiration.

After a graceful and felicitous speech from the lieutenant-governor of the State, an ex-officio trustee, the president of the new university arose to deliver his inaugural address. Of a most winning presence, modest, candid, refined, he proceeded to sketch the whole design and hope of the university with an intelligence and fervor that were captivating. It was the discourse of a practical thinker, of a man remarkably gifted for his responsible and difficult duty, who plainly saw the demand of the country and of the time in education, and who with sincere reverence for the fathers was still wise enough to know that wisdom did not die with them. But when became to speak to the man who had begun the work and who had just spoken, when he paused to deny the false charges that had been busily and widely made, the pause was long, the heart could not stay for the measured delay of words, and the eloquent emotion consumed the slander as a white heat touches a withered leaf. It was a noble culmination to a noble discourse; and again those who were most familiar with the men and the facts, knew best how peculiarly fitted to each other and to their common work the two men were. Ithaca had devoted this day to the opening festival of her university, and after dinner, through a warm and boisterous southerly gale, the whole town seemed to pour out and climb the bold high hill that overhangs it. The autumn haze was so thick that nothing distant could be seen. Only the edge of the lake was visible, and the houses and brilliant trees in the streets. Upon the hill there is one large building, and another rapidly rising. At a little distance from the finished building was a temporary tower, against which a platform was built. In front of the platform was gathered a great multitude, and in the tower hung a chime of bells. The wild wind blew, but the presiding officer made a pleasant speech of welcome, and then the chime of bells was presented to the university in an address of great beauty and fitness. After a few words of reception from the lieutenant-governor the chimes rang out Old Hundred far over the silent lake and among the autumn hills. For the first time that strange and exquisite music was heard by the little town. "Ring out wild bells to the wild sky," and the heavy gale caught the sound and whirled it away. "Ring in the valiant man and free," and the wind was whist, and the heart of the multitude unconsciously responded Amen. Then Professor AGASSIZ-Louis, the well-beloved-fresh from the Rocky Mountains, magnetized the crowd with his presence and his wise and hearty words; and with two or three more addresses, and another peal of the chimes, the Cornell University was formally dedicated. The sun was sinking, a fire-ball in the haze, as the people dispersed. The hour and the occasion were alike solemn; and with meditative feet, his fancy peering into the future, the latest loiterer descended. . . .

Professor CADWELL has thus described the inauguration of studies: "On the twenty-second day of September, twenty-five years ago, about a dozen men, of whom but three are now in the Faculty, assembled in a small room of the Cornell Library building down in the town, where the light was almost as scanty as in a photographer's dark room, and held the first meeting of the faculty of Cornell University. A little later other appointments were made, so that the first Register gave a list of twenty-three professors, of whom six are now here. On the sixth of October, the first entrance examinations were held in a large basement room of the same building, where the supply of light and air was not much more liberal than in the temporary faculty room, under the general direction of the first registrar, Dr. WILSON.

"The English examinations were held in one corner of the room, the examination in mathematics in another corner, the geography in another, and, when all the corners were filled, where there was light enough to write by, the lesser examinations were sandwiched in between. In these examinations all helped; a professor of chemistry had charge of the orthography. It might have been wise to have first examined the professor himself in that branch of English; indeed, the earliest records of the faculty present incontrovertible evidence that the spelling of at least one of its members was not altogether beyond criticism. But there was no time for any such test of the ability of the examiners to do the work assigned to them, and they had to be taken on trust. A professor appointed to teach in one of the departments of natural history had, I believe, to look after the examination in algebra; and so one and another of us was temporarily drafted into this unanticipated service.

"The crudity of this arrangement for the entrance examinations, as compared with the present methods was no greater than the crudity of everything else in those days. Rickety barns, and slovenly barn-yards offended the senses where the extension of Sibley College is now going up; the second university building, now called White Hall, simply protruded out of an excavation, the top of which reached nearly to the second-story windows at one end. The ventilation of the chemical laboratory, in the basement of Morrill Hall, was partly into the library and reading room above it; readers there, not being chemists, did not find the chemical odors agreeable. An ancient Virginia rail fence traversed the site of this building and its neighbor, Boardman Hall; the minutes of the faculty show that before the end of the first year the modest request was made of the founder of the university, that he permit said fence to be moved 150 feet further to the south, in order that there might be a sufficiently large piece of level ground adjoining the campus for the military evolutions and for ball games.

"Bridges, side walks, and even a road between the one university building and Cascadilla, the one home where almost everybody connected with the university lived, either did not exist at all, or were only partially completed. It was a long time before the multitude of foot tracks was obliterated, made by the passing of teachers and students down and up the banks of the ravine north of the site of the gymnasium; when snow, slush, and mud alternated with each other in November, even a professor sometimes forgot his dignity and slid down the bank, and by inadvertence not always all the way down on his feet either; the hearty sympathy bestowed upon such an unfortunate by student spectators can be imagined, if not believed in.

"What those teachers and students would have done without Cascadilla for shelter it would be hard to say; for the people of the town had apparently not then learned that there was money in taking boarders; nor were there hardly more than a dozen dwelling houses nearer the university than half-way up East Hill. So Cascadilla was full from basement to attic; and a professor who had not lived there at all was, in later times, hardly considered by his colleagues as having fully earned his right to be a professor in the university."


The formal opening of the university may fitly be taken by the annalist as the beginning of the Library's independent existence; but the principles which were to guide its formation and growth had been clearly laid down in the "report of the committee on organization" and, of necessity, much had to done in the way of collecting books before the Library could be said to have an existence. At the sixth meeting of the Board of Trustees, held September 26, 1867, an appropriation of $7,500 for the purchase of books was made, which was increased to $11,000 at the meeting of February 13, 1868. To all who were engaged in the preparations for establishing a fully equipped university on what had been till then a mere hillside farm, the summer of 1868 was an exceedingly busy season. One of the first purchases for the new university-the classical library of Charles ANTHON, numbering over six thousand volumes-had already been made. In the spring, President WHITE had gone to Europe, armed with formidable lists of books and apparatus to be collected, and made large purchases of scientific and literary works, one of the most important of his acquisitions being the library of Franz BOPP, the famous philologist. Thus cases of books and apparatus began to arrive long before any place was prepared to receive them. A temporary shelter, however, was found for the books in the halls and attic rooms of the Cornell Library in this city.

At the opening day in October, the only university building under cover was Morrill Hall, better known to old Cornellians as the South Building. Of this building the middle section alone was available for library, lecture rooms and laboratories, both wings being wholly occupied as dormitories.

To the Library were assigned the two rooms on the ground floor, the present faculty room and the registrar's office. The walls of these rooms were lined with tall book-cases, extending to the ceiling. Some of these book-cases, it may be noted, had already done service in the library of the short-lived State Agricultural College at Ovid. These wall book-cases, however, were by no means adequate to contain all the books even then received and when the university opened, thousands of volumes were still stored away in boxes. Nor was there immediate prospect of obtaining more shelf-room. Indeed, so great and so urgent was the demand for more classrooms, it was found necessary to hold lectures and recitations in the rooms occupied by the Library, much to the inconvenience of readers, who were thus, during the greater part of the day, deprived of the use of the books. This state of things continued throughout the first two terms, and the greater part of the third. For though it was promised in January, 1869, that within a few weeks, at most, the new laboratory building would be completed, to which the lectures held in the library rooms would then be transferred, yet in this case, as in so many others, hopes proved delusive, and it was not until April that the laboratory building was ready for occupancy, and May was well advanced before the books were full in order on the shelves. Comparatively little use was made of the Library by the students in the first year.

In December, 1868, the librarian, Professor FISKE, arrived and took charge of the Library, which was under his direction from that time until his resignation in 1883. In the latter part of 1868, the British government presented to the Library a complete set of Patent Specifications, and estimates were obtained of the cost of binding them; but it was found that the binding would cost about $6,000, a sum which could not well be spared just then, they were ordered to be stored in London until a more convenient season. There they remained until 1880, when a special appropriation was made for binding them, and finally, in 1881, this great set, numbering over two thousand seven hundred volumes, was received and shelved in the tower of the McGraw building. From a memorandum of a count of the Library made about the first of January, 1869, including, evidently, only the books then upon the shelves in Morrill Hall, it appears that the number of volumes in, the two rooms was fifteen thousand four hundred.

About this time Goldwin SMITH generously offered to give to the university his valuable private library, comprising some three thousand four hundred volumes. It is needless to say that the offer was joyfully accepted, and instructions were at once sent to the Library's agent in London to remove the collection from Mortimer House, near Reading, where it then was, and forward it to Ithaca. Towards the end of March the books arrived, but the task of arranging them upon the shelves, was deferred until the summer vacation. This, it may be observed, was but the beginning of Goldwin SMITH's benefactions to the Library. Later he gave two thousand five hundred dollars, and in June of 1870 one thousand dollars, to be spent in the purchase of books; in 1871 he gave a valuable collection of works on Canadian history, and from time to time since then has presented many important works.

Meantime, in February, 1869, John McGRAW, seeing how urgent was the need of more room for library purposes, had offered to erect a library building to cost fifty thousand dollars. Archimedes Russell, a Syracuse architect, was commissioned to prepare the plans, and in the spring the excavations for the foundations of the McGraw building were begun. At the first Commencement of the university, in June, 1869, the corner stone of the building was laid with Masonic ceremonies, and addresses were given by Stewart L. WOODFORD and John Stanton GOULD.

At the opening of the second year, in September, 1869, the Library still occupied its first quarters in Morrill Hall. The present faculty room was then the reading room, to which the public entrance was at the west end of the central hall. Upon entering, the student found himself in a room about fifty feet in length by twenty-five in breadth, lighted by three windows at each end, the walls lined from floor to ceiling with books. The central portion of this room, a space about thirty- six feet long and twelve wide, was surrounded by pine tables, painted a dark chocolate color, and surmounted by a low railing. In front of these tables stood benches of the sort then used in all the lecture rooms, a few specimens of which may still be seen in some of the smaller class rooms in White Hall. These benches afforded seats for not more than forty readers at the most. It is therefore not surprising that frequent complaints were heard of lack of accommodations for readers.

In this room the encyclopedias, periodicals, and the works on arts and sciences, philosophy, theology and law were placed. In the corresponding room on the south side of the hall were the books relating to philology, lite literature, history and geography. When, in 1870, President WHITE gave to the university his valuable collection of architectural works, with a sum of money for its increase, as there was no space available for its reception in either of these two rooms, the collection was placed in the small room at the southwest corner of Morrill Hall, now the treasurer's office. In this year, too, the pamphlets and unbound periodical had become so numerous that the room now occupied by the business office was also taken possession of for library purposes.

In the spring of this year an effort, which was all but successful, was made to obtain for Cornell the mathematical library of W. HILLHOUSE of Hartford, but, owing to an unfortunate delay in transmitting the decision of our trustees to purchase the collection, it was secured by the Sheffield Scientific School. President WHITE generously offered to subscribe for the acquisition of this library, and to give, in addition, his entire architectural library-at that time richer than the entire corresponding collections in the Astor, Yale and Harvard libraries. A little later in the year, however, William KELLY, of Rhinebeck, one of the trustees of the university, gave $2,250 for the purchase of mathematical works to make good this loss. With this fund over fifteen hundred volumes were obtained, to which the name of the Kelly Mathematical Collection was given. For this collection a place was found in the room now used as the ladies' waiting room. In December, 1870, the Reverend S. J. MAY, of Syracuse, an early and devoted champion of the abolition movement, presented to the university his collection of books and pamphlets relating to slavery. This was the beginning of what is now known as the May Anti-slavery Collection. A few months later, it was largely increased by gifts from R. D. WEBB, of Dublin, and Mrs. Elizabeth Pease NICHOLS, of Edinburgh, both well-known supporters of the anti-slavery cause in the mother country. Since then the collection has received many additions from persons who took active part in the great struggle against slavery in this country, and to-day it is one of the largest and most complete collections on the subject. For this, and the rapidly growing newspaper collection, temporary accommodation was provided in the room now occupied by the Horticultural department, in the northwest corner of Morrill Hall.

In June, 1871, according to the report of the librarian, the number of volumes in the Library was twenty-seven thousand five hundred, and, notwithstanding the increased number of rooms which were occupied, the evils of overcrowding were keenly felt. Meanwhile the walls of the McGraw Building had been steadily rising, and by November it was so far advanced toward completion, that it became necessary to decide just what portion of it should be occupied by the Library, in order that the needful fittings might be prepared. The original intention seems to have been to lodge the Library on the second floor, in the space now occupied by the museum, but wiser counsels prevailed, and it was finally decided that the large room on the ground floor, which had at first been intended for a great lecture hall, should be made the home of the Library, leaving the second floor with its galleries free for museum purposes.

At the beginning of 1872, thanks to the timely aid of Henry W. SAGE, who advanced money for its purchase, the university fortunately succeeded in securing the Spark's collection of American history, numbering over five thousand volumes. In April the books began to arrive, but as the new quarters were not yet ready and there was no room to spare in the old, cheap accommodation was found in the south attic room of the new building and there the collection found temporary shelter. It is evident that the Library at this time was most inconveniently situated, occupying, as it did, six widely separated and unsuitable rooms in Morrill Hall, and one room in the upper story of the McGraw Building. It was hoped that the summer of 1872 would see these disjecta membra brought together, and the whole Library made readily accessible to students. But again our hopes were disappointed; the summer passed and autumn was well advanced before the new quarters were ready for occupancy. At last, on the 5th of October, the task of moving the books was begun, and for several weeks the Library was closed to readers while the books were being transported from the old building to the new. The work was mainly performed by students, who carried the books in boxes from the various rooms in Morrill Hall to the new quarters, where they were speedily arranged and placed on the shelves in substantially the same order as at present. On Monday, November 18, the Library was opened to students in its second home, a large room, with alcoves on either side and reading tables in the central space. A memorandum of a count of the books made in June, 1873, shows that the number of volumes on the shelves was then thirty-four thousand and one hundred, exclusive of eight thousand pamphlets.

Up to this point in its history, the growth of the Library, though somewhat irregular and spasmodic, had been rapid, and its career prosperous. But not long after its removal to the McGraw Building, the university entered upon a period of financial distress, and one of the first departments to feel the pinch of poverty was the Library. One after another, important periodicals and transactions were perforce suffered to fall into arrears, and purchases of new books became fewer and fewer. In 1873, the librarian made an appeal for a large appropriation for immediate use, pointing out that though the acquisition of several collections had made the Library comparatively rich in some departments, it was deplorably weak in others, and urged the necessity of an annual appropriation of at least $10,000. In view of all the circumstances, it is not surprising that the appeal was made in vain. Nor is it surprising that the Library should continue to fall behind, when we find that, from this time until 1880, the regular annual appropriation for the increase and maintenance of the Library was only $1,500. In 1877 the librarian reported that, during the past year, no orders for new books had been sent abroad; that the total number of volumes added during the year was only four hundred and forty-eight; that three hundred and seventy-six of these had been presented, so that only seventy-two volumes had been purchased; that of these seventy-two volumes, fifty-six were continuations of serial works, leaving sixteen as the number of new works purchased within the year. In 1878 and 1879 the same story is repeated with very slight variations in the numbers.

At last, in the autumn of 1880, a full and forcible statement of the lamentable condition of the Library, accompanied by an urgent appeal for relief, was presented to the trustees, and, coming at a more favor able time than the former one, it met with greater success. In December a special appropriation of twenty thousand dollars was made for the increase of the library, of which five thousand dollars were available for immediate use. Large orders for books were at once dispatched, and in the annual report of June, 1881, it is stated that eight hundred volumes of new books had already been received, and many arrears canceled.

By the untimely and lamented death of Mrs. Jennie McGRAW-FISKE, in September,1881, the university became the recipient of a fund, which, it was estimated, would prove to be not less than a million dollars, the income of which, by the terms of Mrs. FISKE's will, was to be devoted to the support, increase, and maintenance of the University Library. With such an endowment the future of the Library seemed secure, and the hardships of the past few years were almost forgotten in glowing anticipations of the rapid development which was now to begin. In 1882 the first instalment of the fund, some seven hundred thousand dollars, was received, and for six months the Library enjoyed the income of this fund. In July, 1883, however, a suit contesting the will was begun, and pending the issue of the contest, the Library, deprived of all income from this source, had to rely upon annual appropriations from the general funds of the university. Happily these appropriations proved to be more nearly commensurate with its needs than those of former years had been.

Meantime, however, the bequest had already begun to bear fruit. One of the greatest defects of the Library had always been the lack of any satisfactory catalogue. Early in 1882 it was decided to begin at once a general card catalogue of the books, and after careful consideration of the various forms of catalogues in vogue, the dictionary system was chosen as being, on the whole, better adapted to the use of our students than a systematically classified catalogue, which would be chiefly of service to trained specialists.

In January, 1883, a statute was passed establishing a Library Council, composed of the president and the librarian, one member of the Board of Trustees, and four members of the faculty. To this council was entrusted the general supervision of the Library and the apportionment of the funds.

The removal of the architectural department to Morrill Hall, in 1883, left vacant several rooms in the north wing of the McGraw building, and these were taken possession of by the Library. The former draughting room was fitted up as a seminary room and room for special study for members of the senior class. The two smaller rooms oil the west side of the hall were given to the cataloguing department and the bibliographical collection. The increasing growth of the library, however, called for still further extension of its quarters, and in 1884 plans were prepared and estimates obtained for the conversion of the present geological lecture room into a general reading room, and for the erection of bookcases in the lighter portions of the existing reading room In this way it would have been possible, at slight cost, to provide suitably for the accessions of the next ten years. At that time, however, it was firmly hoped that within two or three years the contest over Mrs. FISKE's will would be concluded, and that the Library would again be placed in the possession of its endowment. In that event it was designed to erect at once a fire-proof library building, and it was therefore thought best to make no further changes in the present building. But once more our hopes were dupes. The three years reached seven before the final decision came, and for the last five years of this period the overcrowded condition of the Library was a source of constant inconvenience and discomfort to all who used it. Thousands of volumes had to be stored away in an attic room where they were almost inaccessible; on many shelves the books were ranged in double rows; many of the larger volumes were piled upon the floor; and the attempt to preserve anything like a systematic arrangement of the books by subjects became almost hopeless.

In the autumn of 1884, Eugene SCHUYLER gave to the library a valuable collection, numbering some six hundred volumes, chiefly relating to folklore Russian literature and history. In January, 1886, the electric light was introduced, and the library hours which, until then, had been from 8 A. M. to 5 P. M., were greatly lengthened. Since then the hours have been from 8 A. M. to 9:30 P. M. in term time. In 1886 the purchase of the law library of Merritt KING, numbering some four thousand volumes, made an admirable beginning of a library for the School of Law which was soon after established. In January, 1887, President WHITE formally presented to the university his great historical library, containing over twenty thousand volumes, upon condition that a fire proof room in the proposed library building should be provided for it, and suitable provision made for its increase At that time the will suit was still undecided, and though it was determined to procure plans for a fire-proof library building, its erection seemed likely to be delayed for several years. In 1888, however, Henry W. SAGE, recognizing the heed for immediate action, generously offered to provide the funds for the construction of the building, on the single condition that should the final decision in the will suit be favorable to the university, the money advanced for this purpose should be repaid. Should, however, the decision be adverse, the building was to become the gift of Mr. SAGE, who also declared his intention, in that event, to endow the library with a fund of three hundred thousand dollars for its increase. From the designs submitted to the trustees, that of W. H. MILLER, an old Cornellian, was selected, and in the summer of 1888 work was begun upon the foundations. The first stone of the foundation walls was laid in place on September 27, 1888. The corner stone of the building was laid with public and formal ceremonies on October 30, 1889.

In May, 1890, a final decision in the will contest was given by the Supreme Court of the United States, and by it the Library was entirely deprived of the endowment bequeathed to it by Mrs. FISKE. Happily Mr. SAGE's generosity had provided for this contingency, and the Library was henceforth indebted to him for its new building and the endowment for the purchase of books.

The general outlines of the library building are somewhat in the form of a cross, the bookstacks occupying the south and west arms, the reading rooms the central space and eastern arm, while the northern provides accommodation for the offices of administration, the White Library and seven seminary rooms. In August, 1891, the removal of the books from McGraw Hall to the new building was safely accomplished. In September the books of the White Library were transferred to the actual custody of the university and shelved in the room provided for them. On October 7, the building and the endowment fund of three hundred thousand dollars were formally presented to the university by the donor, the Hon. Henry W. SAGE, and at the same time President WHITE made the formal presentation of his library. At this time the number of volumes in the library was over 105, 000.

In December, 1891, the Library received from Willard FISKE the gift of a remarkable collection of Rhaeto-Romanic literature numbering about one thousand volumes. In the spring of 1892, President WHITE presented to the Library an interesting collection of Mormon literature. With the greater facilities for study afforded by the new reading room with its well equipped reference library, came a corresponding increase in the use of the library by students, it being estimated to be four times greater than in the previous year, while the seminary rooms offered every inducement for the prosecution of advanced study and research.

The year 1893, the twenty-fifth of the library's existence, was made noteworthy by three remarkable gifts. First came in February the generous gift of the comprehensive and carefully selected law library of about twelve thousand volumes, collected by the late N. C. MOAK of Albany. This collection, which had long been known to lawyers as the finest private law library in America, was purchased and presented to the Law School of Cornell University as a memorial of the first dean of the school, Douglass BOARDMAN, by his widow and daughter. By this gift the law library was more than doubled in numbers and at once took rank among the leading law libraries of the country.

Next came in June the noble gift of the extensive library of the late Friedrich ZARNCKE of Leipzig, an unusually complete working library in the fields of Germanic philology and German literature; which was purchased and presented to the university by William H. SAGE, a member of the Board of Trustees. This library, which numbers about thirteen thousand volumes, is especially rich in German literature before the time of Luther, and contains three remarkably full special collections devoted to Lessing, Goethe and Christian Reuter.

The third great gift of this year was an astonishingly complete collection of Dante literature, numbering about three thousand volumes, presented by Willard FISKE. This is undoubtedly the finest and largest collection of Dante literature to be found outside of Italy.

Following close upon these, came the gift of an interesting collection of Spinoza literature, containing about four hundred and fifty volumes, presented to the Library by President WHITE.

At the present time the total extent of the University Library is in round numbers about 160,000 volumes and 30,000 pamphlets. To attempt any description of the contents of the Library is out of the question in a sketch like this. It may be said, however, that the Library is especially strong in collections of scientific periodicals and transactions of learned societies. The more important of the special collections have already been mentioned, but it may be noted that the White Historical Library contains large and valuable special collections on the following subjects: Reformation, Torture, Witchcraft, Thirty Years War, and the French Revolution, also a goodly number of incunabula and manuscripts. Another interesting collection consists of the works on telegraph and electro-magnetism, formerly owned by S. F. B. MORSE, the inventor of the telegraph, which were purchased and presented to the library by Ezra CORNELL in 1873.


Mr. John McGRAW had been closely identified with the history of the university from the beginning, having been one of the trustees mentioned in the act of incorporation. His active interest continued until his death. In the early history of the university he had presented the McGraw Hall, a building designed primarily to contain the library, and the collections of natural history, and to furnish lecture rooms and laboratories for these departments. He did not regard his beneficence to the university at an end with this gift; he had considered other plans, but had left them to be executed by his only daughter in accordance with her own judgment and tastes.

Miss Jennie McGRAW was born in Dryden in September, 1849. She was educated in Canandaigua and at Pelham Priory, an Episcopal school in New Rochelle. Miss McGRAW had a native enthusiasm for foreign travel, and a genuine unaffected literary taste. She spent the year 1859-60 in travel in Europe, and resided for a considerable time in Berlin for the purpose of study. In 1875 and 1876, she again visited Europe, and made an extended trip through England and Scotland, visiting also France, Italy and Spain. After the death of her father, she sailed for Europe and extended her travels to Sweden and Norway, going as far as the North Cape, and enjoying keenly the grand scenery of the mountains and fiords. She also visited Russia and Italy. She loved to spend days among the famous paintings of the Louvre and the Vatican. All foreign life possessed a charm for her. She visited Normandy and Brittany, where she found delight in the picturesque architecture and in the life of the peasantry. She shared fully her father's interest in the university. The large wealth which she had inherited was spent in the purchase of paintings and statuary, with which she intended to fill the beautiful mansion which she was erecting on a site where, for many years, she had dreamed of having a home. It was her purpose that the numerous art treasures which she acquired should become the foundation of a gallery which was to be connected with the university. At the opening of the university her fine taste was manifested in the presentation of the chimes, which were her personal gift, and called forth that exquisite poem from Judge FINCH, which will be sung by so many generations of students. Shrinking as regards the public, she revealed to those who knew her intimately a loyal and beautiful spirit, which won the deepest regard of those who shared her friendship; generous, it was her wish that her noble fortune should be a source of joy and blessing to others. Her strength was not equal to the fatigue and excitement of constant travel. Her health failed. The year before her death she was married, and visited Egypt in the hope of being benefitted; but the trip failed to restore her, and she desired to return to her native land. She died a few days after her arrival. Her generous spirit was shown by her will. After giving to her husband and friends, and to objects of benevolence more than a million dollars, the residue of her large fortune was left to the university to found a library which should equal her hopes for its future.

Her marriage to Professor Willard FISKE took place at the American Legation at Berlin on July 14, 1880. Soon after the death of her father she made a will, in which, after certain specific bequests, she bequeathed to the university the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for a Student's Hospital and twenty-five thousand dollars to maintain it; fifty thousand dollars for the completion of the McGraw Hall and for a fund to sustain the McGraw Library Fund, the income of which was to be spent in the support of the Library. She also made the university the legatee of her residuary estate.

She had purchased a beautiful site adjacent to the university grounds and overlooking fake and valley, upon which, at the time of her death, she was erecting a fine residence of stone. The numerous paintings, statues and other works of art and books, which she had purchased abroad, became by the terms of her will the property of Cornell University. She died at her husband's residence upon the campus, September 30, 1881.

On January 8, 1883, after due citation of the parties interested, there was a judicial settlement of her estate. On the 6th of September, 1883, a petition was presented by her husband, Willard FISKE, opening the decree of settlement, to which, on the 24th day of October following, her kinsmen, being heirs at law or legatees under her father's or her own will, were admitted as participants in the contest which now arose. The, value of the estate which she had received from her father was estimated to be worth about $1,600,000. Her fortune at her death amounted to about $2,025,000, the property which she had inherited having increased rapidly in value during the prosperous years from 1877 to 1881, in addition to which there was a trust fund of $250,000 in her favor, from her father's estate, which she was to receive ten years later. This will was now contested on various grounds, the principal being, first, the provision in the charter of Cornell University which limited the property which it might hold, to $3,000,000; secondly, the provision of the statute which forbade a wife having a husband living to bequeath more than one-half of her property to religious or benevolent purposes. The ablest counsel appeared to discuss the difficult and intricate questions of law which were involved. Great interest was felt, not only in the university, but abroad; especially among educational institutions. It was felt that the creation of a great university library, which would become possible by the realization of this gift, was a State and National blessing and would enable the university within a short time to gather about it facilities for study, as regards its literary collections, not surpassed by any university in the country. The question of greatest importance connected with this case, and upon which the other conclusions depended, was as to the value of the estate devised; and the amount of property which the university actually possessed. The National Land Grant had been bestowed upon the State of New York in trust for a specific purpose. It had received land scrip or promises of land, which might be subsequently selected, not land itself. The value of this land scrip when the university was chartered was sixty cents per acre. The entire amount which the State then held, would have yielded at the market price about half a million dollars. In this emergency Mr. CORNELL had offered to purchase the remaining scrip, about eight hundred thousand acres, to locate the same on selected lands and pay all costs of surveys, taxes, etc., and when the market was favorable, to sell the land and pay all the proceeds into the State treasury, less the actual expenses which he had incurred, the same to constitute the "Cornell Endowment Fund," the income of which should be paid forever for the support of the university. The condition of the sale or conveyance of the land to him was that he should bind himself to pay all the profits to the State treasury for the university. He was to do for the State what it could not do for itself, for one State could not locate land in another State without producing a confusion of jurisdiction, which was, moreover, distinctly prohibited by the Land Grand Act. It would also have it in its power to affect the market value of property in another State by its action. The question was: Are these additional proceeds a part of the consideration which Mr. CORNELL agreed to pay for the land; and if so, do they constitute a separate fund, not subject to the special provisions of act of Congress, but form a personal gift of Mr. CORNELL to the university, a gift possible only through years of labor and through the risk of his personal fortune ? Was the State a trustee for the entire sum realized from the sale of the national land, responsible for its reception and administration, as it was for previous sales which constituted the "College Land Scrip Fund," or was the university the owner?

Had not the State of New York limited or modified the act of Congress? And if it apparently did so, would such action be sustained by the United States Supreme Court? These were some of the questions which were required to be passed upon by the highest State and National judicatories. The trustees of the university regarded the execution of the trust which they had received as of so binding a character that it was incumbent upon them to maintain the obligation imposed upon them by Mrs. FISKE's legacy. A decision in the Probate Court was not reached until May 25, 1886. From this decision an appeal was taken to the General Term of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, which rendered a decision on the 20th of August, 1887, reversing the judgment pronounced by the surrogate, and deciding that Cornell University had already reached the limit of property prescribed by its charter, at the time of the death of Mrs. Jennie McGRAW-FISKE, and was not entitled to and could not take or hold any of the property or funds devised or bequeathed to it by her last will and testament.

From this judgment of the court an appeal was then taken by the counsel of the university to the Court of Appeals, by which a decision was rendered on November 27, 1888. This decision sustained the position assumed by the contestants of the will. In an elaborate opinion pronounced by Judge PECKHAM, in which the remaining justices, with the exception of Justice FINCH, who took no part, concurred, it was held that a corporation has the right to hold, purchase, and convey such real and personal estate as the purposes of the corporation shall require, not exceeding the amount specified in the charter; that no corporation possesses or can exercise any corporate powers, except such as shall be necessary to the exercise of the powers enumerated and given in its charter, or in the act under which it is incorporated; that no devise to the corporation shall be valid unless such incorporation be expressly authorized by its charter, or by statute, to revise it by devise; that the college, being a corporation, has power to take and hold by a gift, grant, or devise, any real or personal property, the yearly income or revenue of which shall not exceed the value of twenty-five thousand dollars.

The decision was based on the following statement of facts, and of law:

In the act of Congress donating the public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, a certain appropriation of the public lands was donated to the different States for the purposes above expressed, but to such donation there were several conditions attached

(a). The land should be selected from the National lands in the State to which the grant was made, if there were public lands enough within it to permit it; if not, the Secretary of the Interior was directed to issue to each of the States land scrip to the amount in acres to which the State was entitled, which scrip was to be sold by the State and the proceeds thereof applied to the uses and purposes prescribed in the act, and for no other use or purpose whatever.

(b). In no case should a State to which land scrip was issued, be allowed to locate the same within the limits of any other State or Territory, but their assignees might locate it on any of the unappropriated lands of the United States which were subject to sale at private entry at $1.25 or less per acre.

(c). All expenses of management, superintendence and taxes from the date of the selection of lands previous to their sale, and all expenses for the management and disbursement of the moneys received from such sales were to be paid by the State, so that the entire proceeds of the lands should be applied to the purposes named.

(d). All moneys derived from the sale of the lands by the States to which they were apportioned, and from the sales of land scrip, were to be invested by the States in stocks of the United States or of the States or some other safe stocks yielding not less than five per cent. upon the par value of such stocks, and the moneys so invested were to constitute a perpetual fund, the interest of which should be inviolably appropriated to the endowment and maintenance of at least one college, where, among other subjects, agriculture and the mechanic arts should be taught.

(e). If any portion of the invested fund, or any portion of the interest was lost, it was to be replaced by the State, so that the capital of the fund should remain forever undiminished and the annual interest should be regularly applied without diminution to the purposes mentioned in the act.

To these conditions the State was required to give its assent by legislative act, and the grant was only authorized upon the acceptance of them by the State. This gift was bestowed upon Cornell University upon condition that the Hon. Ezra CORNELL should give five hundred thousand dollars in money to the university, and twenty-five thousand dollars to the trustees of the Genesee College at Lima, in this State. The university having received this sum the question arose: How can it dispose of the scrip in the best possible manner so that the income of the university shall be increased to the greatest possible extent? The result of throwing upon the market such enormous amounts of the public land as had been donated by Congress to the several States was a fall in the market value of the land and, of course, of the scrip which it represented, to a sum far less than the established price for government lands. In the fall of 1865, Mr. CORNELL purchased of the comptroller one hundred thousand acres, of laid-scrip for fifty thousand dollars, and gave his bond for that sum, upon the, condition that all the profits which should accrue from the sale; of the land should be paid to Cornell University.

On April 10, 1866, the Legislature authorized the comptroller to fix the price at which he would sell and dispose of any or of all the lands or land scrips donated to this State, such price not to be less than thirty cents per acre for said lands. He might contract for the sale thereof to the trustees of Cornell University. If the trustees should not agree to purchase the same, then the commissioners of the Land Office might receive from any persons an application for the purchase of the whole or any part thereof at the price so fixed by the comptroller. The trustees or such persons as should purchase the land scrip were required to make an agreement and give security for the performance thereof to the effect that the whole net avails and profits from the sale of the scrip or the location and use by said trustees, person or persons of the said land, should be paid over and devoted to the purposes of such institution or institutions as have been or shall be created in accordance with the provisions of the act of Congress.

On June 9, 1866, Mr. CORNELL in behalf of the trustees informed the comptroller that they would be unable to purchase and locate the land scrip as they had no funds belonging to the institution that could be appropriated to that purpose. On the same day Mr. CORNELL made to the comptroller the proposition, by the acceptance of which a contract was made with him, by which he agreed to place the entire profits to be derived from the sale of the lands to be located with the college land-scrip in the treasury of the State, if the State would receive the same, as a separate fund from that which might be derived from the sale of scrip, and would keep it permanently invested, and appropriate the proceeds from the income thereof annually to the Cornell University for the general purposes of said institution, and not to hold it subject to the restrictions which the act of Congress placed upon the fund derivable from the sale of the college land-scrip, or as a donation from the government of the United States; but as a donation from Ezra CORNELL to Cornell University.

The comptroller had fixed the price of the scrip at fifty cents per acre which was somewhat less than the market price for small parcels, but which, in consideration of the large quantity which was to be disposed of, and the fact that the prospective profits to be derived from the sale and location of the lands were to go into the State treasury, he considered fair as well for the purchaser as for the State. "Acting upon the above basis, I propose to purchase said land scrip as fast as I can advantageously locate the same, paying therefor at the rate of thirty cents per acre in good seven per cent. bonds and securities and obligating myself to paying the profits into the treasury of the State as follows: Thirty cents per acre of said profits to be added to the college land scrip fund and the balance of said profits to be placed in a separate fund to be known as the Cornell University fund and to be preserved and invested for the benefit of said institution, and the income to be derived therefrom to be paid over annually to the trustees of said university for the general purposes of said institution."

The question upon which the Court of Appeals decided this celebrated suit rested upon the interpretation of the agreement which is here cited. The counsel of the university urged that the conditions imposed upon Mr. CORNELL in acquiring the land scrip by which he was obliged to return to the treasury of the State all profits from the same, constituted a part of the contract and that it was a distinctly specified condition, constituting a part of the agreement under which the land was sold to him, and under which condition it would have had to have been sold to any other person; in fact, it was an obligation imposed by the Legislature upon any sale of the land by the comptroller acting with the Land Commissioners of the State. Mr. CORNELL was in that case fulfilling a contract made with the State. As interpreted by the Court of Appeals, this condition did not constitute a contract, but the title to the land passed to Mr. CORNELL, and he thus became the absolute owner of the land scrip. His profits were to be paid into the treasury of the State, but they were to be paid therein as profits and not as any portion of the purchase price of the scrip; and they were paid as profits of Mr. CORNELL and received under that agreement as the property of Cornell University, the income of which was to be paid to it for its general purposes and the principal was to constitute the Cornell Endowment Fund. It was, in the view of the court, other than an agency created in behalf of the State; the profits which he had hoped to be able to realize in the future were entirely speculative in character and amount, and were dependent largely upon the judgment with which the lands were located and the times and manner of the sale. The proceeds of the sale of these were, therefore, Mr. CORNELL's own gift to the university. All the compensation he sought for his services, his trouble and his responsibilities, great and onerous, as they were, was the fact that all this should go to the university.

In 1874, just before Mr. CORNELL's death, he transferred to the university all his right, title and interest in this vast property and the university assumed in his place the execution of all obligations and contracts which Mr. CORNELL had undertaken in carrying out his noble and farseeing purpose.

The construction placed on Mr. CORNELL's agreement by the counsel of the university made it a debtor to the State for the entire amount realized from the sale of the lands. An additional point, presented with great learning by the counsel of the university, maintained a distinction in law between the right to "take" and to "hold" property by devise. It was claimed that by the law of mortmain, corporations without special license might "take" the title to real property aligned, subject only to the right of the superior lord, in this case the State, to enter and take the land under the power of forfeiture. The charter of the university provided "that it might hold real and personal property to the value of three million dollars." This position received apparent support from the decisions of the courts of other States and from certain decisions of the United States Supreme Court. It was held, however, by the Court of Appeals, that the early mortmain acts in England bear no resemblance to the tenure by which a citizen of this State holds lands. Here there is no vassal and superior, but the title is absolute in the owner and subject only to the liability to escheat. Although some portions of the mortmain laws of England may have been enforced in other States, no such laws have been enforced in this State. As a large portion of the real estate bequeathed to the university by Mrs. FISKE was situated in other States, it was urged that such real estate could not in its descent be subject to the law of this State, but that the title to real estate is governed by the laws of the State where the real property is situated. But the court held that the direction in Mrs. FISKE's will to convert her estate into money or available securities operated as an equitable conversion of the estate, and hence no real estate in other States had been devised by, her to the university. As the interpretation of an act of Congress was involved in the decision of this question, an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States where Senator George F. EDMUNDS, one of the ablest constitutional lawyers of this country, presented in a plea of great force the position of the university. He claimed that the whole of the moneys derived from the sale of the lands were trust moneys, and belong to a trust fund, and had no connection or relation to the limitation of the amount of property- that the university might hold as provided in its charter. The fact that the State provided for other modes of investment than those mentioned in the law of Congress had no bearing upon the intrinsic nature of the trust itself. To hold that it could, would be to hold that a trustee may change the nature and responsibility of his duties under a trust by mis-investment. The opinion of the court, which was pronounced by Mr. Justice BLATCHFORD, followed that pronounced by the New York Court of Appeals. A dissenting opinion was presented by Mr. Justice BREWER, in which Mr. Justice GRAY concurred. This opinion held that the act of the Legislature of New York, under which the land scrip was bestowed upon Cornell University was the legislation of a sovereign state prescribing the duties and powers of one of its officials, and also a declaration of the duties cast by a trustee upon his agent in respect to trust property. In either aspect its voice was potential in respect to that which was, under the authority, thereafter done by official or agent. In this view, the land commissioners had no authority to make a limitation in the contract, by which thirty cents an acre and the net proceeds were to pass to the national fund. No subsequent legislation on the part of the State of New York, and "no agreement between it and Cornell University as to the possession of these funds can have the effect to relieve the State from its liability as trustee, or place the title to those funds elsewhere than in the State." The use of the proceeds of the land scrip fund are stamped with the limitation imposed by the original act of Congress. Under the decision of the highest court of the State of New York and of the United States, the Cornell endowment fund was the gift of Mr. CORNELL to the university. It was not, therefore, subject to any limitation which might apply to the land scrip fund, and can be used for any of the purposes of the university which the trustees deem proper.


The attention of the trustees was early directed to the acquisition of collections of natural history and of art. One of the first collections obtained before the opening of the university was the Jewett collection in paleontology and geology, which was purchased by Mr. CORNELL at a cost of ten thousand dollars and presented to the university. This collection, which had been made by a scientist in Albany, was regarded at the time as extremely complete. Soon after the charter of the university, the Legislature passed an act giving to the university a collection of duplicates in the same department from the State museum in Albany.

A larger and more important acquisition was that of the Newcomb collection of shells which was purchased by the trustees in February, 1868. Dr. NEWCOMB had spent many years in the Sandwich Islands and in Central America, in which he had made an extensive, and almost unequaled, collection of shells illustrating the conchology of that region. Many of these shells were of the highest value and some were absolutely unique, the only collections at the time which could be compared with it was the type-collection made by Professor ADAMS of Amherst and a similar collection at Yale. The university also authorized the purchase of the mineralogical cabinet of Professor Benjamin SILLIMAN, jr., of Yale College. Smaller, but valuable, additions were made, among others a collection of four hundred birds, presented by Greene SMITH, esq., the son of Gerrit SMITH. Valuable gifts of books were also received which are mentioned in connection with the Library. The Museum of Archaeology is a recent, but most valuable, addition to classical study and to the history of art. This beautiful collection is the gift of the Honorable Henry W. SAGE. When the Library was moved from the McGraw Building, the rooms which it had occupied were devoted to a Museum of Archaeology. This was fitted up for its purpose during the year 1893 and it was formally dedicated in February, 1894. President WHITE had early insisted that a museum of casts would be one of the most valuable acquisitions for the study of the history of art which could be made in this country. The acquisition of original works of art was impossible, but in place of them the exact models almost equally valuable for purposes of study could be obtained. Mr. Henry W. SAGE, whose large interest in the development of the university was not confined to any one department, made this beautiful gift to the study of the humanities.

The museum is an outgrowth of the system of instruction followed in the arts course of the needs of graduate work in the classical departments at Cornell. The leading ideal in its formation is to furnish the best illustration of the development of antique sculpture. It therefore consists principally of a collection of full-size plaster casts, numbering nearly 500, of notable examples of Greek and Roman bronzes and marbles. These have been furnished or made to order, for the most part, under the direction of the foreign museums possessing the original. Some specimens of Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian, Persian and Etruscan sculpture have been added for purposes of comparison. The principal groups, distributed in eight sections over 5,300 square feet of floor area, illustrate Oriental and early Greek sculpture, classical mythology, Greek athletic statuary, architectural sculpture, the school of Praxiteles, later Greek, Pompeiian and Graeco-Roman sculpture. No attempt has been made to illustrate Christian sculpture.

As a museum of classical sculpture, the collection is actually excelled by no other university museum in the United States, and among other foundations only by the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston. The total cost of the collection and equipment is about $20,000.

On the 30th of June, 1868, Mr. John McGRAW proposed the erection of a fire-proof building suitable for the needs of the university. This building (the present McGraw Hall) was begun soon after, and was designed to accommodate the library, the collections of natural history and to afford lecture rooms for the departments of geology, anatomy and physiology.

No provision had yet been provided for suitable accommodations for the department of mechanic arts, when, in the summer of 1870, the Hon. Hiram SIBLEY offered to erect a building for that purpose. On the 9th of August a contract was made for its erection. The Sibley building as originally planned was designed to be one story in height with a French roof, Mr. SIBLEY consented to increase the height of the building by one story on a pledge from President WHITE to expend a sum equal to the cost of the extra story, in apparatus, models, etc., for the departments of civil and mechanical engineering.

At the same time the need of residences for professors was being seriously felt. Most of the students and faculty were accommodated within the gloomy and disagreeable walls of Cascadilla. The city itself at this time contained no more residences than were needed for its own population. On January 24, 1870, the lease of land to professors, which would enable them to build upon the university ground, was authorized. This important action has contributed more than anything else, perhaps, to give the University a unique character by establishing upon its grounds a university colony. It was proposed at this time to erect a residence for Professor Goldwin SMITH on the half lot additional assigned to Professor FISKE and connected with his residence. The erection of the president's house by President WHITE was originally proposed at the time of the offer of Mr. McGRAW to erect the hall which bears his name. The first residences for professors upon the university grounds were those of Professors LAW and FISKE. President WHITE proposed on June 21, 1871, to erect a president's house for his own occupation, which, upon his resignation, should become the property of the university for the use of the president. The house thus begun was planned by one of the earliest students of the university interested in architecture, Mr. W. H. MILLER, who has since been the architect of the Sage Library and the School of Law. The president's house was not completed until the summer of 1873, President WHITE retaining his residence in Syracuse for the first five years after the opening of the university, and occupying rooms in Cascadilla Place during the occasion of his visits to Ithaca.

Upon the acceptance of the report of the committee appointed to consider the subject of female education in the university February 13, 1872, a committee was appointed to prepare plans for the Sage College. These were drawn up by Professor Charles BABCOCK, and the building remains one of the most simple and dignified in architecture and one of the most satisfactory of all structures on the university grounds. This building was erected during the year 1872-73 and formally opened for the use of students at the opening of the fall term, 1874.

On May 7, 1872, the contract for the erection of the Sage Chapel, in accordance with the offer of the Hon. Henry W. SAGE, was authorized and on the following morning the executive committee went in a body upon the grounds of the university and formally selected its present location. The plans originally contemplated a stone chapel, which, were afterwards changed to one of brick. The chapel as proposed was designed to accommodate an audience of five hundred. The contract for its erection was made on June 22, 1873.

Provision was made in the summer of 1874 for laying out the grounds of the Sage College by a skillful landscape gardener, and about the same time the wooden bridge across Cascadilla was replaced by the present structure of iron.

At the meeting of the trustees upon June 16, 1880, the Hon. Henry W. SAGE offered to erect at his own expense a conservatory for the botanical department at a cost not to exceed $15,000.

On September 3, 1880, the erection of a physical laboratory was authorized, and it was directed that plans and estimates for it should be prepared at once, and on December 18, 1880, an appropriation was made to erect and equip the same.

The erection of an armory was authorized April 29, 1882, and a new building for the departments of chemistry and physics on June 9 of the same year.

On June 14, 1883, the erection of a memorial chapel, to serve as a mausoleum for the benefactors and officers of the university, was ordered.

In the summer of 1887, Mr. Alfred S. BARNES offered to give $45,000 in addition to the amount already subscribed by the members of the Christian Association, to erect a building to be used for the purposes of the association. The plans of this building were authorized September 27, 1887, and the construction was immediately entered upon, the building being formally opened for public use at Commencement, 1888.

The erection of a building for the civil engineering department was ordered by the trustees at their meeting October 26, 1887. On June 20, 1888, it was provided that this building should be made of stone, in order to correspond with the other buildings of the quadrangle. On June 19, 1889, the name Lincoln Hall was bestowed upon it in honor of President LINCOLN, by whose approval the act of Congress, donating public lands for agricultural and mechanical education, became a law. Work upon the same was begun in April, 1888.

On September 19, 1888, the Hon. Henry W. SAGE, feeling deeply the immediate need of a library building while litigation regarding the realization of Mrs. FISKE's will was still pending, proposed to advance to the university the necessary funds for the erection of the building. By a letter July 15, 1889, Mr. SAGE proposed that this library building should be a free gift, if by the decision of the United States Supreme Court the bequest of Jennie McGRAW should fail.

The erection of a new chemical laboratory was ordered at the meeting of the Board of Trustees October 24, 1888, the plans for which as prepared by Professor OSBORNE were formally adopted, and a site chosen. The erection of the building was begun in July, 1889.

On February 18, 1891, an appropriation was made for the erection of a law school building, plans for which were, on April 25, 1891, accepted and the contract was made on September 21, 1891.

On March 13, 1883, Mr. Hiram SIBLEY, of Rochester, presented $50,000 to the university to be spent in the erection of additions to the present buildings of Sibley College to provide additional accommodations for the growing classes.

History of Cornell - Chapter IX

Carl Hommel donated this material and transcribed into digital format.
Thank you Carl Hommel.

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