Emory Report
October 19, 2009
Volume 62, Number 7


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October 19, 2009
Pictures build story of Oxford-Emory history

By Cathy Wooten

You’ve heard it said that the 30,000-foot view is best for setting goals, but it was the 1,000-foot view that led to a new book about Emory’s history.

Oxford College has just announced the publication of “Cornerstone and Grove: A Portrait in Architecture and Landscape of Emory’s Birthplace in Oxford, Georgia” (Bookhouse Group, 2009). The idea for the book came last year to Joe Bartenfeld ’64Ox–’66C when he went along for the ride with a friend who is an aerial photographer, and their route east of Atlanta took them over the Oxford College campus.

Bartenfeld, who was then president of the Oxford College Alumni Board, looked down and was struck by this different perspective on the familiar buildings and landscape. Back on solid ground, he contacted Oxford Dean Stephen Bowen to float the idea of a book with photographs of Oxford’s buildings and a history of the campus.

Bowen liked the idea and commissioned Erik Oliver ’93C–’93G to write the book. As a native and current resident of the city of Oxford and an Emory alumnus, Oliver brought not only his knowledge of both campuses to the task, but also his experience and training as an historian.

Working with Emory and Oxford archivists, he selected numerous photographs from Emory’s collections and supplemented them with photographs from private individuals and his own line drawings. The result is a beautiful book that can be enjoyed just by looking at the photographs and illustrations, but it is also one that is readable and well-researched.

Because of the entwined history of the two campuses, the story of any of Oxford’s structures built prior to 1919 is Emory’s story. Oliver chronicles these and more, taking the reader from Phi Gamma Hall, Emory’s oldest academic structure, to 2009 and Oxford’s East Village Residential Center, Emory’s first newly-constructed building to receive a Gold LEED designation.

But architecture is not the only focus; also included are photographs of the surrounding landscape and the city of Oxford and descriptions of how they have played their roles in Emory and Oxford’s progress.

There are ghosts in these pages, too. Who knew that on the site where Oxford’s landmark Seney Hall stands today there once was an imposing Greek Revival building called Old Main, one of Emory’s first major structures? That Humanities Hall, Dooley’s home when he sent his first message to Emory students in 1899, has had both its name and its façade changed several times? Or that a beautiful, domed neoclassical building (Old Pierce Hall), built in 1902, was razed to make way for a 1950s dormitory? Seeing and reading about these and other once-upon-a-time buildings is especially intriguing.

“Cornerstone and Grove” is available from the bookstores on both the Oxford and Emory campuses. More information, including how to order the book by mail, can be found at oxford.emory.edu.