Viewing category '1940s'
The Jorgensen Years, 1935-1962, were years of significant growth and expansion
Albert N. Jorgensen was inaugurated as the University’s seventh President in 1935. Throughout his tenure as President, but especially in the years following the end of World War II in 1945, President Jorgensen spearheaded a period of tremendous growth and expansion, not only in terms of increased enrollments and greater variety and availabilty of new academic programs, but also in terms of the construction and improvement of the University’s physical facilities. One of his most notable achievements as President was his work with the Legislature of the State of Connecticut to launch an extensive and far-reaching building campaign that dramatically changed the look and feel of the Storrs campus. The new student union building (1952), the auditorium that bears his name (1955), and the new Fine Arts Center (1959) that was to be the home of the new School of Fine Arts, are examples of Jorgensen’s vision of a revitalized academic and cultural community which he brought to fruition at Storrs. Jorgensen was commitment to the increased development of professional schools, and he strove to improve the level of graduate higher education at the University. Commenting on his first decade in office, the Hartford Times observed, “During these ten years, the college has become a university in fact as well as in name.”
Pamphlet of course of study in Home Economics, ca. 1945-50
This early Home Economics Department pamphlet, designed by Professor Wilma Keyes, evokes a bygone era in the University’s history, but also provides a glimpse into the types of learning experiences that were available to students enrolling in Design courses offered by the Department.
From drama clubs to the Speech and Drama Department
Courses in Speech and Drama made a somewhat later appearance into the institution’s official curriculum than Art and Music courses. Of course, early extra-curricular clubs such as the College Shakespearean Club and touring theatre troupes such as the State College Players not only formed a vital part of the institution’s extra-curricular life, but served as an important source of outreach to communities further afield as well. However, evidence points to the fact that the first official drama courses were not offered until 1924. In that year, Professor Howard A. Seckerson of the English Department organized the State College Players in the contexts of a Modern Drama class. During the 1923-24 school year, the Players traveled over 3,000 miles performing a repertory of nine plays for nearly 50 performances. Their touring helped to promote state-wide interest in and acceptance of play production. The Speech and Drama Department was formed in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1949. Upon the founding of the School of Fine Arts in 1961, the name of the Department became the Theatre Department.
Original homes of the Music Department
The earliest known building associated with Music activities on campus stood on the present site of Whitney Hall, across from the Great Lawn between Rt. 195 and Beach and Gulley Halls. It was known as “Valentine House,” or “Music House.”
The next building to become a ‘hallowed hall’ for Music classes and performances was known as Mechanics Hall, which still stands near the Storrs Congregational Church. This building housed Music classes, rehearsals, and concerts from the time of the Department’s official creation in the College of Arts in 1931, until the Department’s move in 1959 to the newly constructed fine arts campus in the building now known as the Drama/Music Building.
Original home of Drama productions
Hawley Armory, constructed around 1912, was the site of the earliest recorded campus dramatic productions. These were staged by the Dramatics Club in 1916. The Armory was home to countless other productions reaching well into the 1940s and 1950s. Upon its formation in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1949, the Speech and Drama Department opened office, classroom, and other spaces in temporary, military styled buildings located in South Campus. In 1952, the newly constructed Student Union Building joined Hawley Armory as a site for numerous dramatic productions and performance events.
Original home of the Art Department
Courses in Drawing and Basic Design were traditionally part of the Home Economics Department. From the late-1930s, the courses were taught in the Home Economics building, which still stands in the central portion of the campus. Upon its creation in 1951, the newly formed Art Department opened office, classroom, and other spaces in temporary, military-styled buildings in South Campus. In 1955, the construction of the Albert N. Jorgensen Auditorium provided the Art Department and its patrons with a modern gallery space for exhibits of all kinds. In 1959, The Art Department moved its quarters to the new Fine Arts Building (now known as the Drama/Music Building) built on the site of the post-war, temporary, South Campus buildings.
Formation of College of Arts sparked interest in a separate Fine Arts School
The College of Arts, later to be renamed the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was formed in 1940, and brought together in the same academic family the three separate Departments: Home Economics, Music, and Speech and Drama. For this reason, 1940 is an important year in what might be thought of as the ‘pre-history’ of the School of Fine Arts. Within the decade, a gradual consensus began to develop that these artistic disciplines belonged together in separate, independent School of Fine Arts. This evolving consensus culminated with the approval by the University Board of Trustees of the establishment of the School in 1961. The School was comprised of the Art Department, later to be re-named the Art and Art History Department, the Department of Theatre, presently known as the Department of Dramatic Arts, and the Department of Music. The School of Fine Arts was officially established in 1961.
In order to review the history of an individual department and its relationship to the School of Fine arts, click on “See Timeline entries relevant to one of these at a time” in the left sidebar, then on the name of the department, or on one of the other constituent parts of the School. We found that three factors have contributed and will continue to contribute to the health and vitality of our programs. Should you wish to focus on one of these, click on Origins, Leadership or Donors.
In chronicling the period between 1940 and 1961, our timeline will focus primarily on those major events and developments associated with the gradual gathering of forces and the generation of a steady groundswell of interest in, and enthusiasm for, the creation of the School of Fine Arts. In the forties, the remarkable changes in campus life, and to the curriculum, brought about by the presence of thousands of GI’s returning from the battlefields of World War II will be noted. Then, the transformative changes brought on in the fifties by the wide-ranging and ambitious building and renovation campaign charted and brought to fruition through the leadership of University President Albert N. Jorgensen will be outlined.
Herbert France appointed first full-time Professor of Music
Herbert France was appointed first full-time Professor of Music in 1942. He had been appointed to teach music by President McCracken in 1931. His appointment as a Professor of Music marked a culmination of a long, proud tradition of Music instruction at the institution dating to the 1880s.
Drama courses ca. 1945 taught in the English Department
Building upon traditions dating back to Professor Howard A. Seckerson’s courses and the extra-curricular activities of the Shakespeare Club, as pictured here in 1915, Drama courses featuring some basic elements of theatre production were offered in the English Department during the forties.