Old Campus (Yale University)

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"Old Campus" redirects here. For other uses, see Old Campus (disambiguation).
Connecticut Hall on the left and Welch Hall on the right.

The Old Campus is the oldest area of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, to the immediate west of the New Haven Green. Although its configuration has changed significantly since Yale's arrival in New Haven in 1718, the current complex consists of dormitories, academic buildings, and chapels surrounding a 4-acre (1.6 ha) courtyard. Old Campus includes Yale's oldest surviving building, Connecticut Hall, and a main entrance from the Green at Phelps Gate.


Old Brick Row in 1807

When Yale College moved to New Haven in 1718, the town constructed its first building, the "College House" at the corner of College and Chapel Streets, where Bingham Hall now stands. The wood-framed structure contained all the functions of the college: student rooms, a library, and a combined chapel and dining hall.[1] Falling into disrepair, this building was ultimately destroyed by students[citation needed] in 1782. Beginning with Connecticut Hall in 1750, the buildings of Old Brick Row were built here. The plan for Old Brick Row, developed by John Trumbull and James Hillhouse,[2] was the first college campus plan in the United States and served as a model for other campuses.[citation needed] Old Brick Row included four dormitories: Union Hall (South College), Connecticut Hall (South Middle), Berkeley Hall (North Middle), and North College. In between, there was Atheneum (First Chapel), Connecticut Lyceum, and Second Chapel.[3]

The Yale Fence, which ran along on College in front of Old Brick Row, was a favorite of many generations of students. Plans for new buildings led to its demise in 1888. The Yale Fence Club was named in its memory. The fence currently lining the Old Campus grass also evokes the old fence.

Many other buildings stood on the Old Campus which were removed to make way for the current configuration of structures, including The Old Laboratory (1782–1888), The Cabinet (1819–1890), Trumbull Gallery (1832–1901), Alumni Hall (1853–1911, Alexander Jackson Davis; the towers from this building were rescued and rebuilt behind the tomb of Skull and Bones), Old Dwight Hall (1885–1926, J. Cleaveland Cady), and Osborn Hall (1888–1926, Bruce Price).[4]

Panoramic view of McClellan Hall, Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Dwight Hall, the Memorial Quadrangle and Harkness Tower, Lanman-Wright Hall, and Durfee Hall

Current buildings[edit]

Statue of Nathan Hale in front of Connecticut Hall

Connecticut Hall (1752), the only survivor of the Old Brick Row, still stands after plans for its destruction, along with the rest of the row, were dropped. Lanman-Wright Hall (1912, William Adams Delano), Durfee Hall (1871, Russell Sturgis), Farnam Hall (1870, Russell Sturgis), Lawrance Hall (1886, Russell Sturgis), Welch Hall (1891, Bruce Price), Bingham Hall (1928, Walter B. Chambers), and Vanderbilt Hall (1894, Charles C. Haight) are used as dormitories for Freshmen. McClellan Hall (1925, Walter B. Chambers) was built as a partner for Connecticut Hall; it was derided by students in a "Pageant of Symmetry" with the slogan "For God, for Country, and for Symmetry."[5] Upperclassmen live in McClellan. Chittenden Hall (1889–90, J. Cleaveland Cady) was connected to Dwight by Linsly (1906-06, Charles C. Haight) to form Linsly-Chittenden Hall. The stained glass window "Education" by Louis Tiffany is in Chittenden. Phelps Hall (1924, Charles Haight), Dwight Chapel (The Old Library, 1846, Henry Austin), Battell Chapel (1876, Russell Sturgis), and Street Hall (1866, Peter Bonnett Wight) are also located on the Old Campus.

There are bronze statues on Old Campus of Nathan Hale (1913, Bela Pratt), Theodore Dwight Woolsey (1896, John Ferguson Weir), and Abraham Pierson (1874, Launt Thompson). There are also statues of lions at the entrance to (Lanman-Wright Hall).

Student life[edit]

Old Campus houses freshmen from ten of Yale College's twelve residential colleges. These students are assigned a residential college before starting their studies at Yale, live in Old Campus dormitories during their freshman year, and move into their colleges at the beginning of sophomore year. Students assigned to Silliman College and Timothy Dwight College live in their colleges for all four years.

Old Campus hosts several annual activities, including Freshman Olympics, Spring Fling, and Commencement in May. It also houses the Explo at Yale summer program for seven weeks during the summer.

In popular culture[edit]

In the fourth season of the television show Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller lived in Durfee Hall in their freshman year.


  1. ^ New Haven Preservation Trust (1984). Yale Central Complex, New Haven Historic Resources Inventory (PDF) (Report). City of New Haven. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Landmarks in Yale's History". Yale University. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Kelly, Brooks Mather (1974). Yale: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
  4. ^ Alden Branch, Mark (March 2001). "Yale's Lost Landmarks". Yale Alumni Magazine (Special Tercentennial Edition ed.). Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Goldberger, Paul (13 June 1982). "Yale's Architecture: A Walking Tour". New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 

Coordinates: 41°18′31″N 72°55′43″W / 41.3085°N 72.9285°W / 41.3085; -72.9285