Since the University of Rochester moved from city streets to a wide-open space at a bend in the Genesee River, it has transformed itself from a small local college into a nationally recognized research university. This year, the University is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the River Campus with an exhibit of rare photographs, memorabilia, and oversized drawings and objects now on display in the Great Hall of Rush Rhees Library. It is free and open to the public.
The original 65-acre main campus was dedicated in 1930. This new exhibit, titled "75 Years Beside the Genesee," gazes back at the 1920s through original documents and photographs of fund-raising campaign projects, campus dedication ceremonies, various landscape design sketches, aerial views of the River Campus, and the contributions of major benefactors.
Under the direction of President Rush Rhees from 1900 to 1935, the University went through numerous changes with the move of the College for Men from the Prince Street campus to the former site of Oak Hill Country Club. In 1924, the University successfully completed the "Ten Million in Ten Days" fund-raising campaign, and began constructing a new campus for up to 1,000 male students. In 1927, citizens of Rochester contributed generously to the effort and thought of it "as their university," said Nancy Martin, University Archivist. She and Melissa Mead, digital/visual resources librarian for Rare Books, curated the exhibition.
The 12 original buildings were named for significant figures in the University's history. One display illustrates a few of the 47 different sketches of the future campus. The Board of Trustees and the main architectural firm of Gordon and Kaelber consulted with the Olmsted firm and chose what they thought was the best orientation to the Genesee River.
In addition to plot plan sketches, there are enlarged preliminary renderings of several different designs of buildings around what became the Eastman Quadrangle, which are all constructed of red Harvard brick and Indiana limestone. The construction was completed earlier than expected and took only a little more than three years.
The exhibition continues through June 30, 2006, in the Great Hall of Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus. The hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, contact (585) 275-4477.