How Gothic architecture took over the American college campus

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tags: architecture

...We know what elite American colleges should look like. Tall Gothic towers, Georgian angles and radii, and the few massive, newer slopes of Cold War modernism: It’s a collage recognizable as “college.”

But American schools didn’t always look this way. A little more than a century ago, there was no cachet in being an “old college,” and there was little cachet, too, in having the old architecture to match it. But a combination of forces—some cultural, some economic—transformed the appearance of American institutions, and made the modern-day college campus take its contemporary appearance and mythology.

How did that happen? Who was responsible? And did a caped geometer ever toss potent hydrochloric onto a trademark New Haven edifice?

In 1888, according to historian John Thelin, administrators from the College of William & Mary came before the Virginian legislature to plead for a more stable source of funding. They argued the college’s long history earned it a bail-out in cash-poor times. The College was older than the nation: Surely this meant something....

Read entire article at The Atlantic

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