Sewanee: Two Bird’s-eye Views

 

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My friend Jerry Smith recently posted the second photo on Facebook–I’m not entirely sure who took it, but perhaps he will let me know.

The sepia print of Sewanee’s campus from 1910 was made by Arthur J. Elder–this is a photo I took of the framed copy in the University Archives, the only known colored print. Elder is a curious character.  Born in 1874 in London, he moved to the US in 1905 and  was hired by the New York publisher, W.T. Littig & Co., to create portraits of American university campuses from the air (a good one of the University of Missouri, with further information, can be seen here; another of the University of Kentucky is here).

How did Elder, or any of the other artists employed by W.T. Littig, get their panoramic views?  This is hard to say. According to the University Icons website, “Lacking good records, today there is debate whether Rummell [another Littig illustrator] would take to the sky in a hot air balloon or, more remarkably, would accurately render the scene as he imagined it … without ever leaving the ground.”  Other sources I’ve looked at indicate the same uncertainty.

In any event, you can see some of the same buildings in Elder’s print as are in Smith’s aerial photo.  St. Luke’s and Breslin Tower both look more or less the same, as does Walsh-Ellet, although the walkway joining it to Breslin has not yet been built.  All Saints’ had been built in 1905, although it was nowhere near as grand as it’s shown here; Elder has filled in the top storey by looking at architectural plans.  Shapard Tower has yet to be constructed as well.  It is interesting to see Thompson Union across from the Chapel; this building would burn in the 1940s. St. Augustine’s Ave can be made out behind what is now the bookstore. Off far to the far right would be the home that Ely Green writes about as that of his father’s family.

 

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About Uncomely and Broken

I teach Latin and Greek at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
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