Thursday, March 4, 2010

On and in the walls of the library

Just by walking around the perimeter of Firestone, you can stumble across a number of plaques and other mementos from Princeton’s past. If you walk up the steps from Washington Road, you’ll pass a terra cotta plaque (right), the only trace of the 1877 Laboratory. The laboratory — the precursor to Guyot Hall — occupied Firestone's current location until it was torn down in 1946 to make way for the library.

The next time you go into the library, if you look to your right just before going through the main doors, you’ll see this ornament (below), a present from His Majesty, King George VI. It is a piece from the Houses of Parliament that was blown off during Word War II.

The library also has a time capsule of sorts. A small, lead-coated copper box rests in the cornerstone of the library. According to The Princeton Alumni Weekly, this box contains a variety or records and objects including a Bible; both a University and a Graduate College catalogue; a phonebook; a reproduction of the catalogue of the College of New Jersey from 1760; paraphernalia from the University's Bicentennial; a biography and picture of Mr. Firestone; copies of The New York Times, Princeton Herald, Princeton Packet, the Daily Princetonian, and the Alumni Weekly; photographs of the models of the library; some coins; and a copy of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Ebenezer Hazard on the importance of preserving records. The box also contains specimens of the Osteopleurus newarki, which appears to be a species of fish from New Jersey. The first fossils of the Osteopleurus newarki were found during the construction of the library.

As a final note, all the lights on the outside of the library are compact fluorescent.