#ThrowbackThursday: Victor Dreams of Foss

Photograph of item held by Wesleyan University, Special Collections & Archives, Middletown, CT 06459


“A man watching his ideas becoming reality.” For a special Wesleyan #throwbackthursday, Wesleying brings you this beautiful, beautiful gift: a little bit of majesty, a little bit of history.

Make fun of the Butts as you will, but in 1965, they were a revolutionary addition to Wesleyan University, and the dream of Wesleyan’s longest-serving President, Victor Lloyd Butterfield. Originally constructed to house the College of Letters and College of Social Studies in an academic-residential cohabitation, the Butts didn’t become the dorms you see today until a 2012 complete renovationButterfield, as pictured above, also dreamed up the Foss Hill Dorms, which include WestCo, Nicolson, and Hewitt (which is why they’re numbered Foss 9, Foss 7, etc.)

But this photo from an Wesleyan Argus issue dated Saturday, February 5, 1966 was a throwback itself, because that day, the newspaper announced Butterfield’s resignation to the community and ran a retrospective of the president’s 23 years of service. Butterfield had announced in January to the Board of Trustees his plan to retire his post by June of 1967, and to the rest of the faculty in early February. So the Argus reflected on all the changes Butterfield had made to the campus, including these new dorms, creating the Center for Humanities (formerly the Center for Advanced Studies, which will be the subject of an upcoming Wesleying feature), building the Ph.D. programs, and making the school’s endowment skyrocket.

More importantly, whoever took and captioned this photo had a serious flair for the dramatic. Much thanks to the folks at Olin Library’s Special Collections & Archives for preserving this for us, some 50 years later. Now go out, fine classmates, and make the Foss of your dreams a reality.

Update (11/22/2014 9PM)Never say we’re not grateful for our alumni readers. A conversation on the alumni listserv, which was forwarded to me today, has actually pointed out that the above picture is not of the Butterfields, but probably one of the Foss Hill Dorms—judging from the balconies. How did I miss that the first time around? I guess I was too transfixed by Butterfields’ dramatic gaze (and the creative-but-not-too-informative caption didn’t help me much). A commenter pointed out that as WestCo only has two floors, so Butterfield is most likely Hewitt or Nicolson. I’ve updated the post to reflect this, and hope that the photo isn’t made any less inspiring by it being just Hewitt (or the Nics), and not the magnificent Butts as previously claimed. Thank you for reading, and you can email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org if you have any corrections in the future!

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6 thoughts on “#ThrowbackThursday: Victor Dreams of Foss

    1. Gabe

      Also could be Nicolson. My bad for having never lived on Foss Hill. Updated the post with that info! Thanks.

      1. Ron Medley

        To be thoroughly accurate, the original photo was probably taken the summer or fall of 1962, which was the year 8, 9 and 10 as well as Wesleyan’s first dining hall (Mocon) were completed.

        Foss 1-6 was completed six years before, in 1956 (I’m a little fuzzy whether Foss 7 was part the first batch or came later – does it share one of the “beach house” lounges of the earlier design or the first floor lounge of Hewitt? I can’t remember.

        All of Foss owes its mid-central modern look to alumnus, Charles H. Warner, one of the founding members of the firm, Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde which later devolved into the firm, WBTL. Warner died in 2004 at the age of 94.

  1. Disappointed '15

    This is cool but….is this a feature?

    Wesleying: You’re a great blog, but your journalism has been pretty shoddy and, quite frankly lazy, lately. When was the last time you investigated a campus issue? RAs, the SJB, the Honor Board, Medical Leave, CAPS, work-study, anything? Look through your past three months of features (wesleying.org/category/featured), there isn’t much anything there at all.

    You’re all volunteers and unpaid, but you’re always patting yourselves on the back on twitter and Facebook about how great you are. This is just a student’s perspective but I don’t know why you do. You guys just don’t seek things out anymore.

    1. Samira

      Investigative stuff is only part of what we do…our sole purpose/focus isn’t to muckrake. We generally try to cover what’s happening on campus/’student life’ stuff, but ultimately the content is dependent on what the writers want to write about. If you want long form journalism all the time, wesleying isn’t the best thing to depend on. You suggested some cool topics, though, so we might look into those.

    2. alum

      Wesleying isn’t the Argus… The blog was primarily founded to let students know about events happening on campus (note – not news, but shit for students to go to) and everything else is just bonus (and still is that way, yeah?). Seems to have gotten more journalistic recently but still. Not the Argus, and don’t think we should expect them to be – apples and oranges.

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