4. Early History of Prospect Avenue
Ivy Club circa 1890
Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 42
Andrew Fleming West House in 1903
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1903, p.196
Around this time, Prospect Avenue was growing increasingly popular with professors. At the corner of Washington Road and Prospect, for example, Professor Andrew Fleming West built his Colonial Revival house in 1880s. With pilasters on the corners, a central pediment with a fanlight, and clapboard walls, this structure draws heavily on the New England tradition.
James McCosh House in 1917, after being moved to Nassau Street
Source: Princeton University Archives, Mudd Library, Grounds & Buildings, Box 51
Next to West's house, meanwhile, was the house built for President James McCosh upon his retirement in 1887 and designed by New York architect A. Page Brown.
James McCosh House in 1913
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1913, p.220
Unlike many Colonial Revival structures, McCosh House was asymmetrical. A picture of the rear elevation taken after Quad took possession, for example, reveals the curved, off-center dining room with three large windows looking out to the south. This picture also reveals a major alteration undertaken by Quad. A second story was added above the covered piazza on the west end of the building.
Henry Burchard Fine House, circa 1903, after remodeling but before move
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1903, p.198
And about the same time that the McCosh House was being built, Professor Henry Fine built a shingle house just to the east.
Henry Fairfield Osborn House in 1901
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1901, p.182
Also on the south side of the street was the Colonial Revival residence of Henry Fairfield Osborn, Class of 1877, a professor who later became the first director of the American Museum of Natural History. This house was located between those of Professor West and President McCosh.
Ivy Club in 1895
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1895, p.188
In 1887 Ivy remodeled its clubhouse, enclosing a second-story porch and expanding the dining room.
Ivy Club in 1895
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1895, p.188
These renovations make the building more formal, although the architect, Alfred E. Barlow, retained the overall Queen Anne flavor of the original, especially in the detailing in the panels over the entrance.
Proposed Cottage Club
Cottage Club , which began its life in the "University Cottage" on University Place, was the second club to build on Prospect. Around 1891, Cottage contemplated a plan for a clubhouse that shows the distinct influence of the Richardsonian style still popular at the time, especially in the mixing of materials and the large round towers with conical roofs (compare this design, for example, with Witherspoon and Dod halls on the campus).
This building was never constructed.
Cottage Club in 1895
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1895, p.190
Instead, in 1892 Cottage broke ground on a clubhouse fully sheathed in shingles and characterized by a pair of turrets that frame the entrance porch. This sturdy building, which would eventually serve as home to four clubs, is less interesting architecturally but also less pretentious.
Tiger Inn in 1899
These early iterations of Ivy and Cottage both evoke the kind of "cottages" then fashionable with the upper classes for country houses or resorts. They were pleasant, comfortable, but not particularly lavish structures, and this style was also not very expensive -- important for organizations of limited financial means.
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1899, p.158
Tiger Inn also looked to "domestic" architectural models with the erection of its mock- Tudor clubhouse, started in 1893. Copied from a 15th- century English inn, Tiger is the first club building to draw on explicitly "English" models, and for this reason Tiger is often grouped with the later generation of more formal, English- inspired clubs.
Tiger Inn architect's rendering
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1896, p.194
But the rendering of Tiger by the architect, G. Howard Chamberlain, belies this interpretation. Consistent with its context of shingled, cottage- like buildings, Chamberlain depicts Tiger as a gracious, charming club in a countrified setting. The English antecedents are obvious, but there is also an element of informality in the design not associated with the later Georgian and Gothic styles.
Cap and Gown Club as depicted in 1895
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1895, p.194
The next arrival on Prospect Avenue was Cap & Gown. Its original building -- later known as the "Incubator" because so many clubs would be spawned there -- was a small, simple cottage with a gambrel roof...
The "Incubator" in 1902
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1902, p.188
...and was located on the same lot as the current Cap clubhouse.
Cap and Gown Club in 1900
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1900, p.160
In 1896, Cap & Gown moved the Incubator to Olden Street and built a new two-and- a-half-story clubhouse on the site. Mixing Italianate details such as the arches and second- floor balconies with more "traditional" elements, such as the hipped roof and symmetrical proportions, this unusual building helps make the transition from the picturesque early clubs to the more formal structures to come.
Elm Club in 1903
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1903, p.192
Although a later arrival to the scene, Elm Club (started in 1900), merits inclusion in the first wave of club evolution. If Cap & Gown's 1896 structure borrowed from the Italianate Revival style, Elm is a full- blown celebration of it. Modeled on a Tuscan villa and painted a bold white, the original Elm stood out from its fellow clubs -- but not nearly as much as it does today.
Elm Club in architect's rendering
Source: Bric-a-Brac, 1902, p.184
At the time, Prospect Avenue was still a hodgepodge of architectural styles and Elm's invitingly informal Italianate design did not clash stylistically with its neighbors. Further evidence of Elm's rightful place in the first phase of club development lies in the architect's rendering, which deliberately softens the club's appearance. Elm was intended as an intimate, comfortable building, far different from the elaborately formal clubs to come.
With the completion of Elm at the turn of the century, the first period in the evolution of Prospect Avenue draws to a close. Viewed from above, Prospect Avenue c. 1897 bears only the faintest indicators of its current appearance. On the south side of the street, in order, stand the West, Osborn, McCosh, and Fine Houses. The first eating club found on this side of the street is Cap & Gown, and next to it Cottage. On the north side, Ivy and Tiger Inn, with Elm soon to follow.
Within 10 years, this view would change considerably as the club system exploded in popularity. This increased the demand for club buildings, and in turn, the older and more established clubs began to build new, larger, and more urban clubhouses in late 1890s. Thus began the great game of musical chairs that accompanied the rise of the club system at the turn of the century.
When Ivy Club built its two- story, shingle clubhouse in 1883, Prospect Avenue was still a muddy lane with a scattering of houses and farms. Recently carved from the old Bayles Farm, the lots for sale along Prospect had a distinctly bucolic character, and Ivy's architect, Frederick B. White, accordingly selected to design Ivy in the Queen Anne style, prevalent in the domestic architecture of the period. Shingled on the second floor and clapboard below, White's Ivy set the tone for the earliest clubs: cottage- like structures of shingle construction, drawing on rural rather than urban influences.