This online exhibition originated as an assignment in ART 102-ARC 102. An Introduction to the History of Architecture, a course taught by Professor Basile Baudez (Department of Art & Archeology) in the Spring of 2020. Professor Baudez would like to thank Julia Gearhart, director of the Visual Resources Collection, Yichin Chen, support specialist, and Carlos D. Kong, graduate student in the Department of Art and Archeology, for their support in making this exhibition possible.
The rich and storied history of Princeton University is not only evident in the structures and names currently visible on its campus, but also in those buildings that have been destroyed, replaced, and renovated. As one of the leading innovative institutions in the world, Princeton University’s progressive culture is reflected in its constantly evolving landscape. This exhibition seeks to explore the history of Princeton’s destroyed buildings and their role in the development of the campus community and beyond.
The exhibition encompasses a diverse range of architectural styles and functions. Some structures simply grew to be outdated, including the Cloaca Maxima, which served as a sewage receptacle until the first dormitories with indoor plumbing were built in 1877. Others needed to be expanded, moved, or rebuilt to accommodate the university’s growth. The former Museum of Historic Art was replaced in 1964 by the modern McCormick Hall and Princeton University Art Museum to house a growing art collection and Art and Archaeology Department.
Religious influences at the University can be traced back to the First Chapel, designed by John Notman in 1847, which was vacated after the construction of Marquand Chapel nearly 40 years later. The former was replaced due to its lack of use while the latter collapsed in a fire—a fate shared by several other buildings in this exhibition.
The creation of other structures on campus represented scientific progress, such as the Halsted Observatory, which housed the largest telescope in the hemisphere when it was built in 1868. The same stones from this structure were repurposed to construct FitzRandolph Observatory in 1932.
Other destroyed buildings had roots in history and people still deeply intertwined with the legacy of Princeton—from Philosophical Hall, designed by Henry Latrobe, the first professionally trained architect in the United States, to the Casino, which housed the infamous Triangle Club, whose legendary members included F. Scott Fitzgerald and Booth Tarkington. These histories contextualize the importance of these buildings, both while they were active parts of the campus community, as well as after their destruction.
The array of architecture encompassed by this exhibition offers a glimpse into the history of why buildings on the Princeton campus were created and destroyed, and their relevance in the changing landscape of our university.
Cade Keegan ‘21