G-C-B. Three letters that have an incredibly unique connotation within the context of the Brown bubble. Though a simple Google search yields results that include a recently cancelled sitcom on ABC, “Global Corruption Barometer,” and “Genomics and Computational Biology,” on College Hill, the three letters bring to mind one thing and one thing only: the Graduate Center Bar. The Graduate Center Bar occupies a place of magic and mystery for the majority of one’s time at Brown. Faint conversation rings throughout campus: “I heard they serve free drinks there!” “I can’t wait to turn 21 so I can have my first beer!” “Why are you sitting with us?…” Despite the somewhat legendary status of the bar, the GCB does have quite a unique historical relationship with Brown as an institution.
Rhode Island Hall seems to be one of the more unnoticed buildings on the Main Green—some only know it as Joukowsky, while others have never set foot inside. Little do people know that Rhode Island Hall has an incredibly cool history… and even used to home to a large collection of taxidermy (among other things). Yes, you read correctly.
Rhode Island Hall was built in 1840 to create new space for the Departments of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Geology, and Natural History. Its name reflected the fact that the building was almost funded entirely by Rhode Islanders. The second floor of Rhode Island Hall was also Brown’s Museum of Natural History, which displayed a large variety of taxidermy and osteological species. Continue Reading
After a brief hiatus (and it has actually been brief this go-round!), Ra Ra Brunonia is BACK with a titillating installment on bears aplenty, bears galore. As Nick Bibby’s bronze, indomitable bear sculpture travels to Providence by boat in a massive reinforced steel container, it only seemed appropriate to dive into Brown’s century-long, storied relationship with its beloved mascot, the bear. For contemporary students, the robust Kodiak bear in Meehan Auditorium reigns as the most Ursus arctos presence on campus. According to Encyclopedia Brunoniana, alumni Ronald M. Kimball ’18 and John J. Monk ’24 solicited funds to donate that Kodiak bear to the University in October 1948, and they were even thoughtful enough to cover the cost of the bear’s mothproofing.
In 1955, the legendary documentarian Elliot Erwitt photographed the Kodiak bear, entitled the image “Brown University, Providence, RI,” and included it in his book Museum Watching. The Kodiak bear’s portrait is in good company within this oeuvre: Erwitt shot some of the most iconic images of the 20th century, ranging from grieving first ladies, to scenic trysts, to celebrities, to whimsical compositions of dogs. But, as photogenic and statuesque as Meehan’s Kodiak bear is, there were days long ago when Brown’s mascot could be found beyond the confines of a glass case…
Ever notice those metal contraptions bookending the Faunce Steps? These masterpieces of metal-smithing are not simply ornamental. They have a name: boot scrapes. These simple items first gained popularity in 18th-century Europe, when wealthy pedestrians walked through muddy city streets cluttered with horse manure and sewage and then employed the scrape to avoid tracking filth into their homes. The French call boot scrapes decrottoirs, which literally translates to “excrement removers.” As a traditional New England town, and a metropolis in one of the original colonies, Providence boasts architecture with boot scrapes galore. Boot scrapes also lurk by Faunce House’s Waterman entrances, and near the doors of historic homes on College Hill.
Although boot scrapes tickle the fancies of antique dealers and historians alike, the modern pedestrian tends to overlook these artifacts. The odd modern pedestrian who does notice the boot scrape approaches it in a bewildered state.
Have no fear! We’ve reevaluated the boot scrape’s relevance in the modern world, and established the top five ways to usher these Brunonian boot scrapes into the 21st century.
1. An anchor for your Pilates exercise bands
Studies show that one should regularly perform activities that engage your hamstrings and glutes, and we all walk past Faunce each day, so why not incorporate the building and its regal boot scrapes into your workout regimen? Who needs the Nelly when you can do Pilates in front of everyone on the Main Green? By simply tying a Pilates exercise band around one of the building’s many boot scrapes, you can limber up in a matter of minutes. Can anyone say: stretching time?!
Ra Ra Brunonia is back with another exciting installment about our slightly more creative/hip counterpart down the hill, RISD (pronounced riz-dee). Though a journey to the Rhode Island School of Design does require a bit of a trek, the school holds an incredibly deep-rooted history that is rightly overlooked by the impressive work that is regularly pumped out of the institution. While Brown does indeed pride itself on the being the ‘Creative Ivy,’ the buck stops right around Benefit Street, where scores of students with drafting boards will literally etch out the artistic dreams of Brunonians. I’m sorry, someone had to say it.
Despite the seemingly mysterious aura it exudes, RISD serves as an unbelievable resource for Brown students and should neither be overlooked nor avoided. Yes, RISD may be notorious for its cutthroat critiques, six-hour studios and Olneyville Warehouse parties, but at the end of the day, we are all children of the great city of Providence and should get along as such. Reading through the sarcasm, the city of Providence is quite relevant to RISD as an institution and truly provided the backbone for its establishment.
Who’s down to learn about some gates?! After another brief hiatus, Ra Ra Brunonia is back and better than ever (yes, I have said this before!)! As a member of the Ivy League, Brown is forced to conform to a strict gate policy: in order to proceed onto a grass-covered quadrangle, a student must walk through/beneath a gate. This policy is strictly enforced, as evidenced by this…and this…and this.
Let me just establish this up front: Brown loves gates. We walk through the Van Wickle Gates during our first week on campus, we run through the John Nicholas Brown gate when late to our American Legal and Constitutional History lecture, we even have an eatery explicitly named The Gate. Gates are to Brown as Gail is to the Ratty; you absolutely cannot separate the two.
We begin with the most regal of gates at Brown—The Van Wickle Gates. Located at the top of College Street, the Van Wickle Gate has been a staple of the Brown campus since 1901. Named after Augustus Stout Van Wickle, who was incidentally killed in a skeet shooting accident (Ed.-seriously?), the Van Wickle Gates are only fully opened twice a year: towards campus during Convocation and towards downtown Providence during Commencement. It is traditional that seniors doff their caps as the pass beneath the Van Wickle Gates after graduation. As a side note, Augustus Stout Van Wickle also donated a fence and gate to Princeton University—the man truly loved gates. Continue Reading