We all know it, we’ve walked past it a thousand times — University Hall, the icon of Brown. If you don’t know it, it’s the huge building on the Main Green with the bell and the bricks, and you should probably stop taking the shortcut through the Leeds Breezeway. Beyond its purpose as a home for administrative and presidential goings-on, the College Edifice (its original moniker), built in 1770, can be traced back to the establishment of Brown in Providence. Once the lone behemoth on College Hill, University Hall has nestled in among the high rises and beautiful parking lots of the city, serving as a beacon of knowledge and intellect for all who make the trek up College Street.
As Brown’s first and oldest building, University Hall has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the course of the school’s nearly 250-year history. Brown was a bit lazy in its design and modeled the building after Nassau Hall at Princeton, the alma mater of Brown’s first president, Reverend James Manning. Controversy surrounds the construction of the building, as Corporation records denote the possible use of slaves in the work force. Once completed, the building held the students’ quarters, mess hall, chapel and classrooms until the construction of Hope College in 1822. It was at this time that the College Edifice was renamed University Hall. (Note: Why isn’t the word ‘edifice’ used more often? #18thcenturynostalgia #swag). [Read more →]