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 renovation. Butterfield, 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!