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  1. The New Refectory

View in 1862

View in 1862

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 54

In 1834, the Trustees commissioned the erection of a utilitarian refectory on the corner of William Street and College Lane, an out-of-the-way spot across from the College garden. It was an L-shaped, two-story clapboard building with a 76-foot-long dining wing fronting William Street. A map of the campus drawn in 1851 shows the New Refectory at the intersection of William Street and College Lane, approximately where Firestone Plaza stands today.

The students called it the "Poor House," because those of limited means ate there. The more affluent undergraduates continued to eat in the refectory in Philosophical Hall.


View with Bulletin Elm in foreground (photo before 1861)

View with Bulletin Elm in foreground (photo before 1861)

Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 54

One of the better views of the New Refectory shows its proximity to the Bulletin Elm. This much-visited tree served as a notice board for the entire College community during the 19th century.

The Poor House was first used in December 1834. The steward, who presided over board for the students, moved out of the old Steward's House behind Nassau Hall (an eyesore that was promptly torn down) and into the new structure. After the Fire of 1855 the College stopped serving meals -- too many students lived and boarded off campus for it to be profitable. The building was then used as a dormitory and as the home of the Philadelphian Society until 1866, when the structure was torn down.