Sometimes you find Alfred memorabilia in the most unexpected places! University Archivist Laurie McFadden recently shopped in a local antique store and, while browsing, discovered this little gem. Intended as a souvenir for a charm bracelet, this 1950s silver-plated stein features the Alfred University seal.
In Alfred , the name Mike Kenyon most often conjures an image of the Mike Kenyon playground on South Main Street. Mr. Kenyon, born Myron Elwood Kenyon, was known in the community for being particularly kind and generous to Alfred children; in 1974 the park was named in his honor for his 80th birthday. Kenyon was also a talented woodworker and took great pleasure in salvaging material from fires, demolitions, and renovations on the Alfred University campus and giving these pieces new life.
Pictured here is a turned wood gavel and base made by Kenyon from wood salvaged from the November 1932 fire at the Brick dormitory. While this fire didn’t destroy the historic building completely, the iconic cupola and fourth floor were a total loss. From the fire emerged the Brick silhouette we know today, as well as this wonderful tribute to salvage, reuse, and art.
In the 1920s the University was experiencing rapid growth, both of degree programs and enrollment. The former was a result of the creation of the New York State School of Agriculture and the New York State School of Ceramics. With this rapid growth came the pressing need for more facilities, both to instruct and house the influx of students. Because it was financially flush at this time, the University was able to address the needs and demands of its growing campus community. New buildings were being constructed, old ones being renovated and retrofitted or torn down to make way for new.
A resulting concern expressed by trustees was the lack of a formal campus plan which could be used to guide this expansion. Frank L. Bartlett, a trustee at the time and the namesake for Bartlett Hall, successfully advocated for the creation of a campus plan by professional architects. The plan shown here was created by Childs & Smith of Chicago at the behest of the trustees. The plans were approved “in general,” meaning the trustees would use the layout as a rough guideline for future expansion rather than a blueprint. Some buildings, such as Alumni Hall and The Brick, are instantly recognizable. Other buildings shown here were never built, their potential unrealized. It’s exciting to imagine what purposes these buildings could’ve served, as well as how their presence could’ve impacted the overall look of the campus.
It’s a safe bet that current Alfred University students are happy this resolution addressing “evil tendencies” is no longer in place!
The Erie Railroad, opened in 1851, played an important part in the life of mid-19th through mid-20th century people in Western New York. For Alfred farmers, it meant that agricultural goods could be shipped and sold more broadly. For the discerning lady, it meant that fine household goods could be ordered from places like Chicago or New York City. For University students, it meant that they could more easily travel between school and home. It also meant that invited speakers like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass (to name a few) could manage speaking tours throughout the country and stop at places like Alfred.
The local depot was located in the appropriately named hamlet of Alfred Station. Local resident Asa Burdick was able to transport his box organ from Alfred to Andover via train in 1866. It would have provided a much smoother and more dependable mode of transportation than having it drawn in a horse and wagon on the muddy roads of March.
Asa notes the event in his diary, which also contained the receipt pictured above:
* Tuesday, March 20, 1866: Got a horse of E.B.G. and a buggy of D.M.C. and went to Alfred after Ellen and her things, boxed up the organ and took it to the depot. It stormed sleet and rain nearly all day
* Wednesday, March 21, 1866: We had a thunder shower last night the first this year. Loaded up and came home, brought up the organ from Andover. Weather warm and cloudy, wheeling good ground frozen
Women’s athletics at Alfred University has a long and interesting history. Long before Title IX mandated athletic opportunities for females, Alfred University encouraged, and sometimes mandated, participation by its women students in some sort of physical activity. The early college catalogs say that women were required to exercise daily! Before varsity sports for women were added in 1974, the Women’s Athletic Association oversaw the athletic program for women. A point system was developed and women worked toward earning various bracelet/necklace charms or earning one of the coveted white blazers (only 5 were given out in any one year). While certainly not as much attention was paid to women’s sports as to the men’s, at least Alfred University women had opportunities for athletic competition in a variety of ways.
Samuel R. Scholes, Jr. (1884-1974) was a world authority in the field of glass science and established the department of glass technology at Alfred University in 1932, where he remained a professor (and later Dean of the College of Ceramics) until his retirement in 1952.
In 1961 the Alfred chapter of the Society of SigmaXi established a lectureship honoring Dr. Scholes, acknowledging his outstanding contributions to science, particularly in the field of glass technology. A gift to him on the inaugural lecture was a piece of Steuben glass.
A fitting gift, Steuben glass, an American art glass manufacturer, was known for its exceptional quality.Virtually flawless, it has been given as gifts to many high-ranking individuals around the world and is now a collector’s item (the company operated from 1903 – 2011).
In 1926, Alfred University student Carl Schwenk filled out this form detailing his daily routine. How different from a student today! No time spent online, playing video games, or watching television. No driving to town for movies, eating out, or shopping. A recent survey of students just entering college showed they expected to study 2-4 hours per week — certainly not what Carl experienced! And most likely, once they get to campus, today’s students will find themselves (hopefully) filling more of their hours in study than expected.
Certainly there have been changes in our postal system over the decades but mail does still arrive in a paper envelope at times. It was not unusual many years ago, as evidenced by the 1870 sample on the left, for the address to be quite brief (just a name, town, state — no street address or zip code). But, the envelope on the right also arrived perfectly fine in the the new era of 2014; it was addressed to Alfred University, East Slope, Alfred, NY 14802. Given that the University is situated on the eastern side of Alfred’s valley, the post office knew exactly where to send it!
One other aspect that’s missing from today’s mail is the decorative engravings that used to grace envelopes and stationery. The detailed campus scene on the 1870 envelope is quite graceful and pleasing; much more pleasant to receive than the plain, white envelopes of today.
Posted in Artifacts
Painting a scene in reverse is not something everyone can do! This image depicts the Alfred University campus (Rogers Observatory, Alumni Hall, The Gothic, and The Brick) in the late 1860s and is done in the eglomise-painting style, a centuries-old French technique also called reverse glass painting. This particular piece, measuring about 14″ x 9″, was created by Eglomise Designs of Boston, Inc. in 1976 as a sale item to University alumni at a cost of $35 (including shipping). Doubtless a hand-crafted, gilded framed artwork like this would certainly cost much more today!