Yale Old Campus, New Haven, Connecticut

The Old Campus at Yale University, as seen looking north from the southeast corner of the quadrangle, around 1918. Image from A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918).

The scene in 2018:

This view shows the north side of the Old Campus at Yale, taken from from near Connecticut Hall at the southeast corner of the quadrangle. The scene in the foreground was originally the site of the Old Brick Row, a row of seven late 18th and early 19th century buildings that ran perpendicular to the buildings in the distance. However, by the late 19th century, Yale began converting this block, bounded by College, Chapel, Elm, and High Streets, into a quadrangle, with Gothic-style buildings along the perimeter of the block. As a result, the Old Brick Row was eventually surrounded by new construction, and all of the old buildings were demolished by the turn of the 20th century except for Connecticut Hall, which still stands.

Two of the first buildings that were completed under this new plan were Durfee Hall, located in the right center of the photo, and the Battell Chapel, located on the far right. These were completed in 1871 and 1876, respectively, and both were designed by Russell Sturgis, a noted architect whose other works included the nearby Farnam and Lawrance Halls. By the time the first photo was taken around 1918, this scene also included Dwight Hall (1886) on the far left, and Wright Hall (1912) in the left center, which had replaced the earlier Alumni Hall on that site.

Although the Old Campus underwent dramatic changes in the 50 years before the first photo was taken, very little has changed in the century since then. The Battell Chapel is still standing, as are Durfee and Wright (now Lanman-Wright) Halls. Both of these – along with the other dormitories on the Old Campus – are now used to house freshman, who live here until moving into one of the school’s residential colleges at the start of their sophomore year. The only significant difference between these two photos is the loss of Dwight Hall, which was demolished in 1926 in order to provide greater visibility of the Harkness Tower from the Old Campus. However, the name lives on with the old library building, which was subsequently renamed Dwight Hall, and it is both the home and namesake of Dwight Hall at Yale, an organization that comprises a number of service-based groups on campus.

Old Campus, New Haven, Connecticut

The Old Campus of Yale University, seen looking west from the New Haven Green, around 1900-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

This scene has hardly changed in more than a century since the first photo was taken, yet it would have looked very different just a couple decades earlier, when the Old Brick Row still stood here. Constructed between 1752 and 1824, this group of seven building comprised the bulk of the Yale campus until the late 19th century, when they were steadily replaced by more modern Gothic-style buildings, as seen in the first photo. This transition also marked a dramatic shift in the layout of the campus. Unlike the Old Brick Row, which had been built in a single line that was set back from the street, these new buildings were constructed right up against the street, along the entire perimeter of the block, with a large quadrangle in the center.

These two photos show the east side of the Old Campus, which consists of a group of five buildings along College Street. The oldest of these is Farnam Hall, which stands second from the right. It is somewhat difficult to distinguish from the other buildings, but it is identifiable by its somewhat lower roof line. It was completed in 1870, and was the first of the dormitories to be built under the new campus plan. Immediately to the right of it, on the far right side of the scene, is the Battell Chapel, which was completed in 1876, and to the left of Farnam Hall is Lawrance Hall, a dormitory that was completed in 1886. All three of these buildings, along with nearby Durfee Hall, were designed by noted architect Russell Sturgis, and they all feature the High Victorian Gothic style of architecture that was popular during this period.

The two buildings on the left side of the scene were built a few years later. They were architecturally similar, although their style could perhaps best be described as English Gothic. As explained in a previous post, these were also designed by prominent architects. To the left is Welch Hall, a dormitory that was completed in 1891 and was designed by Bruce Price. The final link in this row of buildings, Phelps Hall, was built five years later. It was designed by Charles C. Haight, who gave it the appearance of a medieval gatehouse. On the ground floor is the Phelps Gate, which serves as the main entrance to the Old Campus from the east, and the upper floors were built with recitation rooms.

Several more buildings would be added to the Old Campus after the first photo was taken, but otherwise the quadrangle was largely complete by the time Phelps Hall was constructed. This particular view has hardly changed at all. The buildings have seen only minor exterior alterations, and the only new building visible in the present-day scene is the Harkness Tower, which was completed a block away from here in 1922, and can be seen in the distance just to the left of Phelps Hall. Another building of interest, which appears in both photos, is Connecticut Hall. Visible in the distance on the far left side of the scene, it is the only surviving building from the Old Brick Row. It was built in 1752, and although threatened with demolition at the turn of the century, it was ultimately restored, and it now stands as the oldest building on the Yale campus.