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  1. The Clubs Ascendant: 1900-1910

Ivy Club after 1899

The transition to more formal clubhouses that began at the turn of the century directly mirrors Princeton's institutional rejuvenation. For much of 19th century, the College of New Jersey had been regarded as a second- tier institution, but by the time of the Sesquicentennial in 1896, Princeton's national reputation had improved significantly. This reputation continued to grow during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1902- 10).

As a result, the student body at the turn of the century was comparatively more affluent than at any time in the university's history. Backed by powerful and prominent alumni, these students erected clubhouses that express in architectural terms the increasing clout, prestige, and resources of the clubs and their members. This second period in the evolution of Prospect Avenue saw the eating clubs move toward significantly more urbane and elaborate structures.

Ivy Club after 1899

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 42

Ivy Club built the first resolutely formal structure on Prospect Avenue in 1899- 1900. Putatively modeled on the Peacock Inn in Derbyshire, Ivy was designed by Cope and Stewardson, the same firm that designed Blair Tower on the campus and the leading American interpreter of the increasingly popular Collegiate Gothic style. Balancing the formality of the front elevation, however, is Ivy's more relaxed rear elevation, which looks out to the south over the club garden.

Cope and Stewardson's elegant Ivy clubhouse immediately set a new standard of graciousness and refinement for the clubs. And this new building also set in motion a flurry of other changes on Prospect.


Colonial Club prior to 1907

Colonial Club prior to 1907

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Unknown

When Ivy moved across the street to its new building, Colonial Club took over the old Ivy clubhouse and totally remodeled it, masking the old Queen Anne facade with a massive, colonial-style entrance.


Quadrangle Club prior to 1903 move

Quadrangle Club prior to 1903 move

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1903, p.198

At this point, newer clubs began to take their places along Prospect -- and to aspire toward plush clubhouses of their own. Cannon Club , which began in the Incubator, occupied the old Osborn House starting in 1899; two years later, Quadrangle Club acquired Professor Fine's shingle house for its first clubhouse.


Quadrangle Club after move and remodeling

Quadrangle Club after move and remodeling

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1905, p.206

This peripatetic structure was originally built on the south side of Prospect, and then in 1896 was moved to the north side, next to Ivy/Colonial and near the spot of Dial Lodge today. In 1903 Quadrangle moved it back to the south side of the street, located between Cannon and Campus Club, and enlarged it considerably.


Quadrangle, later Tower Club

Quadrangle, later Tower Club

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1908, p.138

Tower Club would later occupy it for five years.


Campus Club in 1908

Campus Club in 1908

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1908, p.136

That same year, Campus Club moved into Professor West's Colonial Revival house on the corner of Washington Road, ...


Charter Club in 1905

Charter Club in 1905

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1905, p.205

...and Charter Club -- as with Cannon and Campus, a hatchling of the Incubator -- also moved into a new and quite formal clubhouse. Designed by David Adler, one of its undergraduate members, this rigidly ordered Georgian Revival building ...


Charter Club (1910?)

Charter Club (1910?)

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 26

...stood at the far end of Prospect, overlooking the baseball diamond of University Field.


Terrace Club in 1908

Terrace Club in 1908

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1908, p.144

At the other end of the street, meanwhile, Terrace Club took over Professor John Grier Hibben's neo-Colonial house ...


Terrace Club in 1910

Terrace Club in 1910

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1910, p.224

... in 1906.


Cottage Club in 1907

Cottage Club in 1907

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1907, p.216

But the architectural high-water mark for the eating clubs came in 1904- 05 with the construction of Cottage Club, designed by Charles McKim of the famed firm of McKim, Mead, and White.


Cottage Club rear facade in 1908

Cottage Club rear facade in 1908

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1908, p.124

This magnificent building succeeds on many levels: its fine Georgian facade and coherent massing of space; its well- proportioned interior spaces (particularly the wonderful library, a copy of the one at Merton College, Oxford); and the handsome rear elevation and landscaping. It is a quintessential clubhouse, the architectural peer of any contemporary club building in North America.


Cottage Club architect's rendering in 1903

Cottage Club architect's rendering in 1903

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1905, p.192

If anything, McKim's exquisite watercolor rendering of Cottage, dated 1903, shows an even more lovely structure than the finished product. For instance, the use of brick quoins instead of white ones softens the overall appearance, and the entrance is better contrived than as built. This rendering marks club architecture at Princeton at its most elaborate: nothing quite so ornate would be attempted again.


Colonial Club after 1907

Colonial Club after 1907

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 30

Cottage's elegant new structure, and sense of the prestige that it imparted, set off the competitive juices of the other clubs. In 1906, after a lightning strike burned a hole in its roof, Colonial decided to put the insurance money toward a new clubhouse. The former structure --the old, much-renovated Ivy building, first club on Prospect -- was moved off campus and the current clubhouse erected.

With its enormous Southern-style portico and columns, Colonial consciously strives to surpass the grandeur of Cottage across the street. But as built, the Colonial falls somewhat short of its promise. The entrance portico, in particular, looks out of proportion with the rest of the building.


Colonial Club architect's rendering

Colonial Club architect's rendering

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1907, p.222

Interestingly, the architect's rendering seems to recognize this problem and suggests a more coherent overall appearance.


Cap and Gown Club in 1900

Cap and Gown Club in 1900

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1900, p.160

Also competing with Cottage was the design of the new Cap & Gown, which decided in 1907 that its Italianate- style clubhouse was too small and resolved to build a new clubhouse. (This 1896 building would go on to house both Dial Lodge and Gateway Club.) Cap commissioned Raleigh Gildersleeve, architect of Elm and many other campus buildings, including McCosh Hall, to design a new clubhouse.


Cap and Gown Club after 1908

Cap and Gown Club after 1908

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 17

Although built of brick as Colonial and Cottage had been, Cap broke from those Georgian and Colonial styles. Instead, Cap chose a structure of dark brick built in what Gildersleeve called the "Norman" style -- not entirely dissimilar to the Collegiate Gothic then gaining popularity, but inspired by French rather than English models.


Cap and Gown Club in 1910

Cap and Gown Club in 1910

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1910, p.208)

The carving around the entrance door and the large windows on the club's protruding eastern wing show particularly strong French influence.


Campus Club, unbuilt design study

Campus Club, unbuilt design study

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1910, p.216

Gildersleeve's Cap & Gown established that brick Gothic designs could work well for eating clubs, and this style proved a natural fit for Campus, the next club to build. Campus stood across the street from the brick Collegiate Gothic of Palmer and 1879 Halls, and it was clear that a Norman- style building would suit the site.

Consequently, Campus considered a grand (and doubtless very expensive) Gothic design that strove to surpass the Gothic of Cap & Gown.


Campus Club, revised architect's rendering

Campus Club, revised architect's rendering

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1913, p.218

But cost forced Campus to curb its appetites and replace the French Gothic design with a simpler, more English- style Gothic plan.


Campus Club after 1909

Campus Club after 1909

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1914, p.216

The result -- a compact, even squat clubhouse -- lacks both the scale and intimate detailing that make Cap so successful.

This happened in 1909, and Campus's decision to back off its grandiose plan marks a turning point in the development of Prospect Avenue. By refusing to compete architecturally with the other clubs, Campus -- along with Cannon -- serves as the bridge to the next generation of clubs. The clubs would still construct some notable and graceful buildings, but never again would they aspire to equal the great clubhouses of this period.