In the beginning, it wasn’t called MoCon. It wasn’t even called McConaughy Hall.
No, when that giant spaceship-shaped monstrosity dining hall first opened its doors in September 1962, it was simply known as the “Freshman Dining Hall.” And that’s what it was; upperclassmen had far classier places to eat: their frat’s eating club, most likely (sup, Chic Chaque?), or Downey House, which apparently served food in the Pre-MoCon Era (is this common knowledge?).
A September, 1962 Argus article (Air Conditioning, Private Dining Rooms Features Of Modern $1,330,000 Foss Hill Dining Area, page two) celebrated the opening of this “ultra-modern structure” to the Class of ’66 on September 16 of that year. Worth highlighting: Blaikie, Miller, and Hines, Inc was the food provider; individual meal costs were $0.75 (breakfast), $1.00 (lunch), and $1.50 (dinner). O 1962, how we miss thee.
A month or so later, a barely noticeable blurb surfaced in the Argus with an update. The Board of Trustees had reached its decision—the “freshman dining hall” would be named after James L. MConaughy, tenth president of Wesleyan. The new Foss Hill Units, meanwhile, were to be named after Joseph W. Hewitt, former Professor of Classics and dean of freshmen. MConaughy’s presidency oversaw the construction of Olin Library, Hall and Shanklin Laboratories, the ’92 Theater, and Harriman Dormitory. Which brings us to one essential discussion question: what the hell is Harriman Dormitory? This is your time to shine, unemployed devoted alumni commenters.
Some interesting facts about McConaughy from the presidents information page on the Wesleyan homepage:
Active by then in Republican politics, he served as lieutenant governor of Connecticut from 1939 to 1941 under Governor Raymond Baldwin, an alumnus of the class of 1916.
When McConaughy ran for governor several years later, in an ironic twist, his opponent, who won the election, was Wilbert Snow, the poet and Wesleyan professor of English, whose lectures, often considered radical, McConaughy had had to defend to Wesleyan trustees. McConaughy, for whom McConaughy Hall, fondly known as Mocon, the scene of freshmen dining, was later elected governor of Connecticut and served from 1947 until he died in office on March 7, 1948.
September, 1962 was the month that the Soviet Union agreed to send arms to Cuba, prompting the October ’62 Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the month that President Kennedy vowed to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Across the pond, an unheard-of Liverpool quartet was preparing its first single, “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You.” And at Wesleyan—still the all-male, mostly white Methodist institution that brought us the likes of Martin Benjamin ’57—a little, oddly-shaped dining hall opened its doors.
Rest in peace, McConaughy, and rest in peace, MoCon. We hardly knew you. Literally.
- Spring, 1962: Dining Hall To Be Finished In August
- September, 1962: Air Conditioning, Private Dining Rooms Features Of Modern $1,330,000 Foss Hill Dining Area, page two
- October, 1962: Dining Hall Named For McConaughy, Dorms For Hewitt