By the numbers
Princeton NJ -- A new book by William Selden, a 1934 Princeton alumnus, on Alexander Hall tells the story of the significant contributions the building has made to the architectural evolution of the campus as well as its cultural, intellectual and social life.
“Alexander Hall, Home of Richardson Auditorium” includes this illustration of the crowd assembled in the auditorium for Princeton’s 150th anniversary from the “Memorial Book of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Founding of the College of New Jersey and the Ceremonies Inaugurating Princeton University,” published by the Trustees of Princeton in 1898.
Published by the Office of Communications, the 44-page illustrated piece begins with the physical growth of the campus during the presidency of James McCosh in the late 1800s and ends with a note about the interior restoration that the hall’s Richardson Auditorium underwent this past summer.
According to the book:
• William Potter, the architect for Alexander Hall (1892), previously had served as the architect for Chancellor Green (1873) and subsequently was the architect for East Pyne Hall (1897).
• One story that Alexander Hall’s design started out as a failed senior thesis project by an architecture student who later donated money for its construction is completely untrue. Potter’s design is in the “Richardson Romanesque” style of American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who designed Trinity Church in Boston.
• The first public lecture in the building was given in November 1894 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the English author of the Sherlock Holmes mystery novels. Since then, it has served as the venue for speeches by many well-known individuals including Albert Einstein, who delivered a series of five lectures on his general theory of relativity there in 1921.
• The building’s first big occasion was the sesquicentennial celebration of the institution in 1896. It was the site of the famous speech, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service” by Woodrow Wilson, who was then a professor here. That title subsequently became the informal motto of the University.
• From its earliest days, the building also has served as a concert hall for music of all kinds, including performances by a cappella choirs, glee clubs, jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles and symphonic orchestras.
“Alexander Hall, Home of Richardson Auditorium: A Chronicle of Alexander Hall’s Significance in the Development of the Princeton University Campus” by William Selden is available for $12 per copy through the Office of Communications.“Alexander Hall, Home of Richardson Auditorium” includes this illustration of the crowd assembled in the auditorium for Princeton’s 150th anniversary from the “Memorial Book of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Founding of the College of New Jersey and the Ceremonies Inaugurating Princeton University,” published by the Trustees of Princeton in 1898.