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This Week in Princeton History for April 15-21

By April C. Armstrong *14

In this week’s installment in our recurring series, some students withdraw from housing assignments in protest, the new library design is under discussion, and more.

April 16, 1970—In response to their request for an all-Black wing not being granted, all 27 Black students with housing assignments at the Princeton Inn decide to withdraw. Several white students are also considering withdrawing.

April 17, 1936—G. B. Moment, Class of 1928, urges Princeton not to build its new library in a Gothic style in favor of something more modern, like a Frank Lloyd Wright building.

The library itself would then stand as a monument to the renunciation of sentimentality and sham and obscurantism and at the same time proclaim the spirit (rather than the letter) of the cathedral builders themselves who constructed to the highest that they knew, both conceptually and technically, rather than, with a debilitating combination of cowardice, indolence, and lack of vision, produce competent reproductions of the signatures of past ages.

A drawing showing a proposed building near Princeton University Chapel
Some of the proposed designs of Firestone Library are a lot different than what was ultimately constructed. This was an option ca. 1945. Firestone Architectural Drawings Collection (AC411), Box 1.

April 19, 1861—Locals are offended that the stars and stripes have been taken down from Nassau Hall’s cupola, apparently to spare the feelings of Southern students. “It is as if one whose eyes were accustomed to the glimmer of a darkened room, should walk out into the broad light of noon, and shaking his little fist at the sun, complain that it hurt his eyes and must stop shining.”

April 20, 1891—Two Princeton students are arrested in Trenton in the wee hours of the morning. According to the Trenton Times, “They had come to Trenton to see the elephant, had been drinking and when arrested were driving rapidly and making night hideous with their songs.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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