IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 3
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Chicago Seven: One Year Later


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GRAPHIC:  About AlumniArchitectural Details

A good year for languages
When it opened in 1928—two years after the placing of its elegantly chiseled cornerstone—Wieboldt Hall was hailed as the first American university building devoted to the study of modern languages. With Classics (1915) to the west and Harper Memorial Library (1912) to the east, Wieboldt was designed as a research “laboratory” for the departments of Germanic, English, and Romance languages. Writing in The Uses of Gothic: Planning and Building the Campus of the University of Chicago 1892–1932 (Chicago, 1983), Jean F. Block, AM’63, noted the need for “seminar and reading rooms, cubicles for graduate students, and, most of all, bookstack space for Harper Library’s overflowing shelves.”

Starting in the 1920s a faculty committee on symbolism was charged with selecting intellectually appropriate ornamentation for each new building. Thus Wieboldt’s spandrels, cornice, and window arches sport many references to European literature. On the cornice are busts of Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Ibsen; Dante, Molière, Hugo, Cervantes; Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Emerson. Along with the illuminati, lesser lights get their due: students wearing academic dress flank the south entrance (one can be seen at the photograph’s left).

— Mary Ruth Yoe

PHOTO:  Architectural Details
Photo by Dan Dry



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