Guest Blogger: Amanda Scott, May 2017 graduate and future librarian, On the Path from Chambers to Main Street

1903 Souvenir Album cover

1903 Souvenir Album, Campus View Looking West from Chambers

Every day I walk the path from Chambers to Main Street, past Oak and Elm, Phi and Eu. The path is incredibly familiar, and thus it was a surprise to realize that the photograph of a tree lined path from a 1903 view book is the same walk, only missing the benches, well, and the bricks paving the path. Phi sits at the end of the path, almost blocked by trees. As other photos in the view book show, the only change in Phi and Eu is the landscaping around them. Though the view book exclusively documents the heart of Davidson’s campus, Phi and Eu are the only buildings in this view book to remain completely unchanged. The original Chambers still stood in 1903, and would for eighteen more years, and Rumple and Martin were replaced by new buildings serving the same purpose. Some of the reference points used in the view book no longer even exist. Shearer was torn down in 1960, to be replaced by Cunningham, and the ivy-covered Morrison Hall came down in 1945.

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Philanthropic Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Eumenean Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Shearer-Biblical Hall – Erected on the Site of the “Old Chapel”

1903 Souvenir Album, The New Dormitory Building

The view book boasts of recent improvements to the college. Among other changes, within the last four years, Shearer, the original Martin, and a so far unnamed new dormitory were built. The dormitory, later dubbed Rumple, was well equipped, with running hot and cold water and radiator heating. It was also wired for electric lights, as the college planned to soon build a power plant. Despite the new building, the college was having a housing crisis, and the calls for enough funds to build another dorm were beginning to grow desperate. Rumple sat where Little is currently located, and I found it interesting to compare the two buildings. Rumple was large at the time, housing sixty students, while Little holds seventy-five. Both buildings follow the same aesthetic of other dorms along dorm row, but while Rumple started the look, Little merely matched the buildings already built. Chambers also needed to be renovated—after nearly fifty years of use, the building could use some work.

1903 Souvenir Album, The Chambers Building – Erected in 1857

My attention kept getting drawn back to the images of the original Chambers. The tallest building on campus poked over the treetops, appearing in several shots. Before looking at this view book, I had never seen a picture of Old Chambers, despite hearing many campus stories about it. In one of the pictures, you can see the large columns that still haunt the lawn in front of the present Chambers. The building is different in some ways from present Chambers, smaller and not quite as cohesive, but the buildings still look similar. Then and now, Chambers remains the center of campus, even as the building itself is destroyed and rebuilt.

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