J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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proper, to include academies, colleges, affiliated colleges and schools; (2) the uni-
versity extension work, to include regular courses of lectures, evening courses, cor-
respondence courses, special courses and library extension work; (3) the university
publication work.

Before its publication the plan of the university was submitted to the criticism


of officials of more than fifty American universities and colleges, and an examina-
tion of its principal features in the light of the experience of the years since the
organization of the university will be convincing evidence of the carefulness of
preparation on the part of those who planned for the institution in its formative

The erection of buildings was begun in 1891, ground being broken for the
first building on November 26th. From a number of architects who had sub-
mitted plans for university buildings, Mr. Henry Ives Cobb was chosen to plan the
buildings. His general plan for the entire group shows four quadrangles for dormi-
tories, with the public buildings, such as library, recitation halls, laboratories, and
museums, as central features. It was decided that all permanent buildings of the
university should be erected of blue stone from Bedford, Indiana.

Among the things accomplished during this busy year was the appointment by
the trustees of a professor, when in July, 1891, they chose Mr. Frank Frost Abbott,
of Yale University, as University examiner and associate professor of Latin.
At the same meeting Mrs. Zella Allen Dixson, the librarian of the Baptist Union
Theological Seminary, was made assistant librarian of the university. At the
meeting on November 16, 1891, the first head professor was elected, when Pro-
fessor William Gardner Hale, of Cornell University, was made head of the de-
partment of Latin; soon afterwards Professor James Laurence Laughlin, of Cor-
nell University, was chosen head professor of political economy. In the spring
of 1892 a large number of professors and instructors were appointed on the


Gifts continued to come in; from the estate of William B. Ogden a designa-
tion was made by the executors of the will for a graduate scientific school and
its maintenance, to be known as the Ogden Scientific School. Mr. Sidney A.
Kent, of Chicago, gave two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a building to
be devoted to chemistry. A gift of one million dollars was made by Mr. Rocke-
feller in the spring of 1892. At about the same time Mr. Marshall Field offered
to the university one hundred thousand dollars on condition that, including Mr.
Kent's subscription just mentioned, the sum of one million dollars be secured by
the tenth of July following. Within the ninety days intervening between the
pledge and the day set for its fulfillment the money was subscribed, including
the gift of Mr. Silas B. Cobb for Cobb Recitation Hall; of that of Mr. George
C. Walker for a museum building, known as the Walker Museum; and that of
Mr. Martin A. Ryerson, which was used in building the Ryerson Physical Labora-
tory. There was great rejoicing among the trustees and the citizens of Chicago
when, on the last day on which the offer was open, with $38,000 still to be raised,
at a meeting of the trustees, announcement was made of a gift of $50,000, pledged
at the last moment. The sum was made up, and a recitation building, two labora-
tories, a museum, dormitories for men and women, and an academy secured to
the university, with a large residue to be used for other purposes.

During the summer of 1892 the university campus was the scene of partially
erected buildings, long trenches where pipes were being laid, grading of ground
about the buildings and laying out of streets. On October, 1892, the first real


work of the university began. A large staff of instructors was ready for work
on the day set for opening. The recitation building was not fully completed, and
students passed under scaffolding to enter the recitation rooms; yet classes were
conducted and work done in regular routine as if that were a matter of course.
The only opening exercises approaching a public nature were those of the first
chapel assembly. Members of the university, with some friends, assembled in
the chapel room at 12:30 o'clock on the first day, where a brief service of prayer
and singing was held.

The year of the opening of the university was well rounded out in December,
1892, by an added gift of Mr. Rockefeller of one million dollars.

The first quarterly convocation of the university was held in Central Music
Hall, January 1, 1893. After a scholarly address by Head Professor von Hoist
on "The Need of Universities in the United States," the president made his first
quarterly statement on the condition of the university, in which he compared the
institution of that time, comprising buildings, land, endowment, instructors, and
students, with the institution as it existed a year before, when the grounds were
desolate land, the university was only announced and still on paper, and the funds
in hand were entirely inadequate. At the time of this report, at the completion
of the first quarter, there were one hundred and nine professors and instructors
who were giving instruction, and the total enrollment of students was five hundred
and ninety-four.


In any account of the University of Chicago the Yerkes Telescope deserves
some mention. Although this great instrument is housed in a splendid observatory
at Williams Bay on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, it is a part of the equipment of the
University. The telescope was the gift of Charles T. Yerkes, and was presented
to the University before a location for an observatory had been decided upon.
This was in 1892, and its completion and dedication did not take place until
five years thereafter, namely, on October 21, 1897.

This great gift to the University and to the cause of science followed closely
upon the opening of the doors of the University and soon after President Harper
had assumed charge. Mr. Yerkes, in his letter of December 5, 1892, said that
he would not only pay for the great forty-inch objective proposed for the observ-
atory, but would also pay for the frame and mountings, and. when the site was
decided upon, the buildings required for the observatory as well. The object
glass was made by Alvan Clark & Sons of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts.

The question of site was considered carefully and the claims of many different
localities were passed in review. It was finally decided that Williams Bay was
the most desirable point at which to locate the observatory, fulfilling the require-
ments in all respects. The report of the committee appointed to select the site
refers to the subject in these words: "It is conceded by all concerned that no site
thus far suggested combines in itself so many of the requirements to so great
a degree. The site is high and beautifully located. The atmosphere is clear and
without danger from the encroachments of manufactories, railroads or electric
lights." Williams Bay is eighty miles from Chicago, and is one of the picturesque-
indentations of that charming body of water known in the early time by the name




President of the University of
Chicago from its beginning, in 1891,
until his death in 1906.


President of the University
of Chicago from 1907 until
the present time.



of Gros-Pied, so called by the French, and by the settlers Big Foot. Mrs. Kinzie,
in Wau-Bun, describing the journey made by her party from Chicago to Green
Bay in 1833, says that on approaching the lake they observed "a collection of neat
wigwams," which formed "no unpleasant feature in the picture." The party burst
into shouts of delight as the charming landscape broke upon their view. "It was
like the Hudson, only less bold. No, it was like the lake of the Forest Cantons,
in the picture of the chapel of William Tell ! What could be imagined more

In this charming locality, thus referred to by the author of Wau-Bun, the
home of the great telescope was established. The form of the building for the
observatory is that of a Latin cross, with three domes and a meridian room at
the extremities. The dome for the great equatorial is eighty-five feet in diameter,
and, like such constructions in all observatories, it is movable, so that the tube
can be pointed in any direction above the horizon. The tube itself with its at-
tachments is about seventy feet in length. The driving clock to regulate the motion
of the telescope when pointed towards a star or planet, of itself weighs a ton.
The tube mounted in position was a prominent object as an exhibit in the Manu-
factures Building at the World's Fair, though the object glass was not mounted
within it ; and the driving clock kept it in motion for the entertainment of visitors.
The site of the observatory includes about fifty-five acres of land beautifully
diversified with woodland and bordering the lake. The grounds were the gift
of John Johnston, Jr.

The land on which the Observatory is built was valued at the time of its
purchase at $30,000. The cost of the completed object glass of the great refractor
was $66,000; of the telescope mounting itself, $55,000; of the dome and rising
floor, $45,000 ; and of the remainder of the Observatory building, including the
southeast dome and the power-house and its equipment, about $150,000.

It is stated in one of the publications of the University that "undergraduate
instruction in astronomy is not given at the Observatory. This is provided at
the University, together with thorough courses in theoretical astronomy and celestial
mechanics. . . . All candidates for the doctor's degree in the department are
required to work at least one quarter at the Observatory." The Observatory
library contains about six thousand volumes and pamphlets. "The pressure for
time for scientific use has made it impossible to permit visitors to see through
the telescopes." There is given opportunity, however, for them to inspect the
Observatory and the great refractor, once a week, on which occasion a member
of the staff demonstrates the operation of the large telescope and explains the
work of the Observatory. At the present time Professor Edwin B. Frost is in
charge of the institution, and with him is associated a staff of three astronomical
professors, and seven computers and other assistants.


In December, 1910, Mr. John D. Rockefeller made a final gift to the Uni-
versity of Chicago amounting to the stupendous sum of ten millions of dollars,
at the same time terminating his relations with the institution finally. "In his
letter accompanying this magnificent reinforcement of the resources of the Uni-


versity," says the "Outlook" of December 31, 1910, "Mr. Rockefeller characterizes
his gift as final. He recognizes the fact that it is better that the University should
be supported and enlarged by the gifts of many than by those of a single donor,
and declares that from the beginning he has endeavored to assist the University
by stimulating the interest and securing the contributions of many others, at times
making his own gifts conditional on the gifts of others. The citizens of Chicago
and the West have generously responded to these efforts and the University has
received more than seven millions of dollars from other donors. Mr. Rockefeller
expresses his appreciation of the extraordinary wisdom with which the University
was planned and its early policy determined, of the fidelity with which the offi-
cers and trustees of the University have conducted its affairs, and declares that
his highest hopes have been far exceeded by the number of students, the high
character of the institution established so early in its career, the variety and
extent of original research conducted by it, the valuable contribution to human
knowledge it has made, and its great and inspiring influence on education through-
out the West. In making an end of his gifts and withdrawing his personal repre-
sentatives from the Board of Trustees, Mr. Rockefeller says that he is acting on
an early conviction that the University, being the property of the people, should
be controlled, conducted, and supported by the people."

"One million, five hundred thousand dollars," continues the "Outlook," "is to be
set apart at his request for the building of a great University chapel, which shall
embody the architectural ideals expressed by the buildings already constructed,
and so placed that these buildings shall seem to have caught their inspiration from
the chapel. In this way the group of University buildings, with the chapel cen-
trally located and dominant in its architecture, will proclaim that 'the University
in its ideal is dominated by the spirit of religion, all its departments are inspired
by the religious feeling, and all its work is directed toward the highest ends.' The
balance of this gift is left in the hands of the trustees of the University, without

"Mr. Rockefeller has now given to the University of Chicago the noble en-
dowment of thirty-five millions of dollars, assuring its future, and equipping it
for the highest efficiency in the educational field. It was the great good fortune
of the donor and of the University to secure a man of the ability, courage, and
working power of President William R. Harper to organize and direct the in-
stitution in its early stages. His energy, scholarship, and broad view of what
was needed and could be done for education in the central West put the institu-
tion in a place of leadership from the beginning, and it has secured throughout
the Central West and the South an influence quite incalculable in its stimulus and

"It should be added, in justice to Mr. Rockefeller, that never, from his first
gift, has he interfered in any way, directly or indirectly, with the management of
the University; that he refused to allow it to bear his name, and that he has
given its trustees and faculty an absolutely free hand. If there has ever been
a time in its career when its policy has seemed to defer to his wishes, it has not
been because those wishes found any expression from him."

In the minute adopted by the board of trustees on the occasion, it is em-
phatically asserted that Mr. Rockefeller has never suggested the appointment or


removal of any professor, and has never "interfered, directly or indirectly, with
that freedom of opinion and expression which is the vital breath of a university."
"It is gratifying," commented the "Nation" on this statement, "to find these aspects
of a university's life and significance made so conspicuous on an occasion in which
the magnitude of the series of gifts now brought to a close might have overshadowed
other considerations. The total of $35,000,000 is beyond all precedent, but for
that very reason the importance of guarding against the suspicion of domination
by the power of the purse has, from the beginning, been peculiarly great in


This great and final gift to the University was generally commented upon by
the press of the country. "The Christian Science Monitor" of Boston, in its issue
of December 22, 1910, takes a broad view of the wealth possessed by some of the
leading universities, in the following editorial:

"It is somewhat difficult to measure the relative financial resources of the
great universities of this country, for the reason that statistical matter covering
them has no fixed basis. The nearest that it is possible to come to it is by com-
paring the figures given by five of the principal institutions with relation to what
is termed their productive funds. At the close of last year the relative standing
in this respect of the establishments referred to was: Columbia, $26,704,539;
Harvard, $22,716.750; Leland Stanford, Jr., $18,000,000; Chicago, $15,070,903;
Yale, $10,561,830.

"The John D. Rockefeller gift just made to the Chicago University carries
with it responsibilities of course, and these will take on the form of obligations
which will involve an increase in fixed charges. It requires a great deal of
capital sometimes to carry donations of this nature. What proportion of the
latest gift must go to making preliminary arrangements for its employment, and
what proportion will find its way eventually into the so-called productive fund
of the institution, cannot be told at this time. But, with the Rockefeller gifts
now aggregating $35,000,000, and $7,000,000 from other sources, over and above
the ordinary receipts, it is fair to infer that Chicago University, from a financial
point of view, will soon rank among the very richest of educational establishments.

"It is pleasant to imagine the coming of the time when we shall hear less
of the universities in connection with their financial affairs and more of them in
connection with their educational achievements. Some of them have already reached
the point where a desire for mere bigness has given place to a settled aspiration
for efficiency. These, however, are among the older foundations. They have long
since become secure; they have long since outgrown all fear of rivalry; they are
completely out of the competitive field; their great aim is for excellence rather
than material growth.

"All this is commendable and as it should be. Thinking people will welcome
the day when all universities and colleges and schools may give their undivided
attention to the advancement of learning. But the greater part of the country
is still very young. Most of it, from the higher educational point of view, is
still in the planting period, and the plants require careful cultivation and constant
watering. There are evidences of sturdy growth on all sides. It is the opinion


of the shrewd and successful business man who has done so much for the Uni-
versity of Chicago that that institution can now, practically, stand alone. This
means a great deal for advanced education in the middle West. It means a great
deal for the future of an institution founded only yesterday, as it were, upon the
remains of a college which, though having but a fraction of the size and con-
sequence of its successor, yet fell short of its purposes because it was somewhat
in advance of the times."


While Chicago is known widely as a commercial center, and has often been
charged with offering up sacrifices exclusively to the Goddess of Getting On,
there are a few institutions in the city which prove that her higher interests are
being fostered and are taking a prominent place in her development. Among these
is the Art Institute of Chicago, incorporated May 2-1, 1879, for "the founding
and maintenance of schools of art and design, the formation and exhibition of
collections of objects of art, and the cultivation and extension of the arts of
design by any appropriate means."

As early as 1866 there was established in the city a school of art practice,
including work from the human figure. This was one of the first art schools in
the country. 2 The class then organized formed a society which soon became
the Chicago Academy of Design, an association of artists which continued to exist
until about 1882. The school continued uninterruptedly during those years, a valu-
able institution in the city, being suspended only at the time of the Great Fire.
Owing to business vicissitudes, the Academy of Design was reorganized in 1878
into what was at first known as the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, this name
being changed not long afterward to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The first president of the board of trustees of this new organization was
George Armour, followed in the next year by Levi Z. Leiter, who two years later
was succeeded by Charles L. Hutchinson. Mr. Hutchinson has been the president
continuously since his first election. From the beginning of the Art Institute Mr.
William M. R. French has been the director of the school and museum, and Mr.
Newton H. Carpenter, the secretary, has been in the business department.

At first, from 1879 to 1882, the Art Institute rented and occupied rooms at
the southwest corner of State and Monroe streets; in 1882 property was bought
and a brick building was erected on the southwest corner of Michigan avenue
and Van Buren street. In this building 72 x 5-1 feet, were class rooms, and gal-
leries to contain the small collections of pictures, marbles and casts then possessed
by the Art Institute. Purchases and the cost of maintenance were provided for
by subscriptions, membership fees, and the issue of bonds secured on the property.
In 1885 twenty-six feet of land adjacent on the south was purchased and during
the following two years a building of brown stone, 80 x 100 feet, and four stories
high, of Romanesque design, was erected on the site of the former brick building.
The Institute grew so rapidly that in five years its building was inadequate to hold
the collections of casts, pictures, metals, and antiquities which had come into its
possession. During the following years of its growth, it had gained the favor and
interest of the community, so that it was prepared to take advantage of the

- Historical Sketch of the Art Institute, by \V. M. R. French.

Containing paintings of the Bnrbizou School

Cmirtesy nf Art. Institute of Chtpnirn



opportunity offered by the plans for the Columbian Exposition to obtain a location
on the lake front. The projectors of the Exposition had determined to expend
$200,000 upon a temporary building there, for the use of sessions of world's con-
gresses. The officers of the Art Institute proposed that they be allowed to add
to this sum whatever amount they could raise for the erection of a permanent
building, to be occupied by the Art Institute after serving its purpose as a meet-
ing place for the world's congresses. A city ordinance of March, 1891, permitted
the erection of the building on the lake front, at the foot of Adams street. Al-
though an injunction was issued restraining the city from allowing any building
to be erected on the lake front, it was made of no avail by the fact that the state
legislature had in 1890 authorized the city to permit the erection there of
buildings connected with the Columbian Exposition, and to retain some of them
permanently. By this exceptional and fortunate circumstance de we have on its
present most fitting site one of the very beautiful and valuable possessions of
the people of Chicago. The cost of the original building was $648,000, of which
$27,000 represented the expense for two temporary halls that were removed at
the close of the Exposition. Of this total sum, $448,000 was paid by the Art
Institute, and was raised by the sale of former property and by subscription.
On December 8, 1893, the building was formally opened as a museum.


The ownership of the building was in the hands of the City of Chicago until
1904, when it passed to the South Park Commission. The right of use and occu-
pation belongs to the Art Institute so long as it shall fulfill the conditions of its
incorporation, shall open the museum to the public free on Wednesdays, Satur-
days, Sundays and public holidays, shall make the mayor and comptroller of the
city ex officio members of the board of trustees, and shall conform to certain -other
simple conditions. The property on which the building stands, comprising four
hundred feet along Michigan avenue, is exempt from all taxation. By this arrange-
ment the Art Institute practically gave to the people of Chicago the money which
it expended on the building, and gained a public character which at the same time
benefits itself and does credit to the people who have fostered the plan.

The advantages of the location of the Institute are great, from the stand-
point both of beauty and convenience. The building is of Bedford limestone, fire-
proof, in Italian Renaissance style, with classic details of the Ionic and Corinthian
orders. It is set forty feet back from the avenue and is three hundred and twenty

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 36 of 55)