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This Week in Princeton History for December 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus gets its first bathtubs, an undergraduate spends a contented Christmas Eve alone, and more.

December 21, 1889—Two stained glass windows later to be installed in Princeton’s Marquand Chapel are on display in artist Francis Lathrop’s studio in New York.

These stained glass windows, depicting the biblical figures Jonathan and David, were the ones on display in New York. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box SP02, Image No. 439. To see the subdued colors Lathrop chose, visit the Princeton University Art Museum’s website.

December 22, 1869—The New York Tribune reports that the College of New Jersey (Princeton)’s new gymnasium has been completed. It features the first bathtubs on campus.

The College of New Jersey (Princeton) Gymnasium, ca. 1870. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP47, Image No. 1544.

December 24, 1841—A student finds himself alone on Christmas Eve. As he will later anonymously tell the story in the College of New Jersey (Princeton) student newspaper, the Tattler, “Soon after our usual supper in the refectory of one or two pieces of bread & a bowl of Coffee had been dispatched, I returned to my room & as we were wont to do in those Classic Walls when we retire for the evening to our domicile, I first unbuttoned straps & pulled off boots, supplying their places by a pair of easy slippers. Oh! how fine! 2nd –pulled off coat, lengthened suspenders & unbuttoned pants. Perfectly exquisite! 3rd, putting on a large gown seated myself in a most comfortable chair & propped my legs on the corner of the table. This past–a touch above the vulgar–panting of the sublime! I was alone & all silent spare a ticking of the Clock. Is it possible thought I, that this is Christmas Eve? It is! Well I’m quite certain I’ve spent nary a one more pleasantly…”

December 25, 1804—The College is awakened in the early hours of the morning by the sound of “several explosions…supposed to be the firing of pistols,” a recurring incident that has been happening for weeks. This time, they discover that the outhouse has been destroyed: “Between Three & Four O’Clock the Necessary belonging to the College was blown up–and immediately a number of persons were collected near the ruins, exulting and shouting in a riotous manner…”

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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