Friday, April 8, 2011

trees and columns . . .

I'm back to work at the University of Washington again - with the Computer Science and Engineering Department.  The view from my office window is of the Sylvan Theater and the infamous columns.  Where did these columns come from ?  Why are they just standing by themselves in the middle of this tree-lined garden ?   Here's what I found online via the UW website:

A low, stone stairway vanishing into the trees leads to the Sylvan Theater, the site of early-day graduation ceremonies. Since then, weddings, plays, banquets, and other happy occurrences such as squirrel watching, sunbathing, and studying have taken place here.

This tree-enclosed hideaway features a grassy stage set with the four white columns that once graced the front stoop of the original university building. In 1908, when the original structure was about to be razed, Edmond S. Meany--head of the History Department and one of the university's first graduates--sought to save the old building by having it moved to the new campus. Eventually, the hand-fluted cedar columns were preserved and erected at the new site by the Class of 1911. Sentimental Edmond Meany and his colleague Dean Herbert T. Condon dubbed the Ionic pillars "Loyalty," "Industry," "Faith," and "Efficiency," the first letters spelling "LIFE."

As life would have it, "Loyalty" sustained three fractures when it blew down in February 1930. Later that year "Efficiency" toppled in high winds but was not damaged. The columns are now supported by steel angle arms set in concrete. History buffs may be disillusioned to know that the scrolls atop the 24-foot columns are fiberglass, molded in 1958 from the original hand-carved pine scrolls, by then cracked and weathered beyond repair.  

c. 1930

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