Did you know that KU did not have an official residence for the Chancellor until 1893, when the university was almost thirty years old? This first residence wasn’t The Outlook, the home of Jabez and Elizabeth Watkins that became the Chancellor’s Residence in 1939. It was another home at 1345 Louisiana that was demolished in 1953 to make way for present-day Douthart Hall.
The article “An Old Friend” on the KU history website tells the story of how the first Chancellor’s Residence came to be built.
In 1891, the University had received a generous $91,618 bequest from the estate of William B. Spooner, a successful Boston leather merchant and philanthropist. Spooner, the uncle of then-KU ChancellorFrancis Huntington Snow, had placed no restrictions on the use of his donation. The bulk of these funds, approximately $80,000, thus went to fill a desperate University need, that being a new freestanding library. Completed in 1894 and named in honor of its benefactor, the Henry van Brunt-designed Spooner Library – now known as Spooner Hall – stands today as Mount Oread’s oldest continually used academic structure.
Adequate library space was hardly the only thing the not yet 30-year-old University of Kansas lacked at this time. Also missing was an official chancellor’s residence, which forced KU’s early chief executives to keep their own private homes in town. Perhaps it was only fitting, then – considering the Spooner endowment’s familial origins – that when KU decided to spend the remaining $12,000 to construct a proper chancellor’s quarters, Chancellor Snow should be the first one to benefit.
Another van Brunt creation, the three-story, early Prairie Style home located at 1345 Louisiana Street welcomed the Snow family in December 1893.
In case the
summer heat and humidity is getting to you, here are the finding aids newly
published to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library website in the last six
months. Come do some research in the cool air conditioning!
I am in the finishing-up stages of a very enjoyable project to
rehouse a group of medieval manuscripts in the Special Collections. The Abbey Dore
collection (currently cataloged as MS 191, but soon to be located at MS
Q80) includes fifteen parchment manuscripts from the 13th century.
Some of the documents have pendant seals attached, and all were housed in a
slim manuscript case in folders fitted with polyester film supports inside.
While this system allowed the manuscripts to be stored upright in
folders, which is certainly convenient, it is not the ideal situation for such documents.
The polyester film has sharp edges that could potentially cause damage to the
seals or documents, and some of the seals are heavy or broken and in need of
better support. In discussions with curators and the manuscripts processing
coordinator, we decided to rehouse the manuscripts in flat enclosures. The
collection will now reside in three flat archival boxes, a challenge for the
stacks manager who had to find the space to put them, but all agreed that flat
storage would be best for these materials.
Because these documents have information on both recto and verso, the curators desired that researchers could view both sides with minimal handling of the fragile items. I made a mock-up enclosure that we looked at together, and after some troubleshooting we devised an enclosure with two mirror-image, soft Tyvek-lined cavities. This enclosure can be gently flipped over and opened from either side to view both sides of the document. Plastazote foam bumpers protect the seals from shifting, and each enclosure will be labeled with instructions for use.