No closet Cobb fan here
everyone is as enthusiastic about the architecture
of Henry Ives Cobb as you seem to be ("Cobb's Other Buildings,"
October/99). In the late 1940s, I was taking a humanities course
in Cobb Hall and the instructor, if I recall correctly, was Henry
Rago (although I'm not sure about this after so many years!) In
any event, the class was assembled and awaiting his arrival.
showed up in a state of semi-shock and related to us the following
explanation of what he had just experienced. He had been suffering
from a cold or allergy and needed to take some nose drops before
attending class. Somewhat reluctant to do this in the hallway
or before his class, he thought he would just pop into a small
closet in which audiovisual and other equipment was stored. This
closet was a weird triangular-shaped alcove tucked into a corner
of the building and not much use for anything except as a catchall.
switched on the light, removed the top from his bottle of nose
drops, tilted his head back, looked up dizzily and nearly choked
in astonishment. "The ceiling of this tiny closet," he said, "was
nearly 40 feet high!" Not exactly representative of currently
held ideas that form follows function. There exists, however,
a certain surprise factor in late 19th-century phony Gothic Revival.
The instructor, needless to say, was not a great fan of Henry
I ever return to the U of C, I would love to visit Cobb Hall,
search out this little closet and experience the thrill of looking
up into that vast space under the eaves. Since it is not likely,
perhaps you would be good enough to investigate the veracity of
this architectural detail for me.
J. Spangler, Jr., AB'50
Cobb has been remodeled since the 1940s, this closet (or its cousin)
may have existed. University planner Richard Bumstead believes
its ceiling would have been nearer to 20 feet in height; 40 feet,
he thinks, is over the top.