Editor's note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his "50 years at Fredonia." Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.
By JOHN MALCOLM
The college has been in danger of losing the lodge on a number of occasions, but somehow it has survived. It now boasts a sleeping lodge and some excellent classroom facilities. It is also a popular spot for picnics and even weddings.
So far in this series, I may seem to have ignored the real reason for the college's existence. I like the definition: "To create, preserve, and transmit truth."
Since we have been using buildings or locations as an organization device let's return to the campus and Mason Hall, home of the Music Building.
We had to use Mason for registration in 1956 since the second floor of Fenton was closed. The plaster ceilings in a number of rooms had collapsed. It seems that with the removal of a peaked roof and tower no provision had been made for the ventilation of a flat roof. Classes had to move to Mason, Gregory and even to the Presbyterian Church Hall across the road.
Mason was still pretty much alone in 1956 and one could appreciate its many details. Now it seems hidden.
In 1938, Fredonia Normal School Principal Leslie Gregory got his wish - money to start building a "college that looks like a college" on the new 60-acre campus that had been purchased with high hopes during the brief administration of Dr. Gregory's predecessor, Hermann Cooper.
His appeal for the construction came from a conviction that it would help enrollment. "Sons and daughters want to go to a college that looks like a college," he was quoted as saying in the January 1938 Fredonia Censor.
He had ambitiously conceived a master plan that would create a campus in the classic quadrangle style.
When approved in 1938, Dr. Gregory's master plan called for all buildings to be designed in a style labeled "Georgian Colonial" (of course he has to share the credit with some unknown state architect-whom we used to refer to as "Frank Lloyd Brick"). The design included peaked or domed roofs, pillars, clock towers, dormers and other interesting details.
Fenton Hall, which would face the steps of Mason, was sketched into the plan to consist of three buildings for classrooms, a library, and administrative offices. (If it weren't for World War II, there would be a lot more pillars and dormers and at least one clock tower on campus. Happily the turn of the century brought us a clock tower.)
After the war these amenities were judged too expensive, and the plans for the rest of the buildings, including a domed auditorium-gymnasium, were scaled back.
John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.