Smith, who is also the author of "Princeton Then & Now," used images that he found in University archives to illustrate his presentation, showing how landmarks like Nassau Hall and Prospect House have evolved over the years. He also shared photographs of edifices that no longer exist, such as the Cloaca Maxima, the stone privy that used to be located just behind Whig Hall, and the University Hotel, which supplied Princeton’s stagecoach line with hotel rooms, a barber shop, and a bank.
Reunion Hall, a five-story dormitory commemorating the reunion of the Presbyterian Church, was another such building discussed. During his brief time at Princeton, John F. Kennedy roomed in Reunion Hall, and some of the alumni in the audience recalled how Kennedy’s classmates preserved some of the bricks from his fireplace in his honor after his assassination in 1963. Several alumni also remembered living in or having class in Reunion Hall; Bruce Leslie ’66 reminisced about having a history precept there.
Though Smith’s talk centered on the transformations that have occurred at Princeton’s campus, he assured the audience that some things never change. “There will always be building projects in Princeton,” Smith said, showing a photograph of men toiling in a ditch, installing the central heating line for the University dormitories. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Image: An engraving of the original Nassau Hall, four years after it was built.
by Ellie Wilkinson