High on the Hill

Dixon, Linda J.





We mentioned that, when Tufts was founded, Walnut Hill was treeless. Today the stately elms present a different prospect. However, during the hurricane of 1938, fully one-fourth of all the trees on the Hill were uprooted. Many were successfully replanted and revitalized, thanks to a colossal effort.

The broad walk beneath the elms from the north portico of Ballou Hall leads directly to the University Store, constructed in 1948. Tufts commencements are often held beneath the elms between Ballou Hall and the bookstore.

Behind the University Store is a steep slope which descends to Boston Avenue. Prominently situated here is the university power plant, whose chimney competes with the chapel tower. Further along Boston Avenue at street level is Sweet Hall, named in honor of Harold Edward Sweet, Arts Class of 1898, H55, chairman of the board of trustees 1923-1949 and a lifelong friend of Tufts. Originally this building housed the Departments of Naval and Air Science; it now houses offices of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Anthropology, Government Resources, Personnel, and classrooms.

The small frame structure perched halfway up the hillside is North Hall Annex, which houses the university's Counseling Center. It was originally an appendage to North Hall, which was built in 1915 as a small laboratory pioneering in radio and electrical research. The salient feature of North Hall for more than a decade was a 300-foot lattice-steel transmission tower which was toppled by a sudden windstorm the day before permanent guy wires were to be installed to steady it. On the morning of September 26, 1915, the structure crashed downhill, across the street, and onto the Boston and Maine railroad tracks just in time to derail the front cars of the Montreal Limited inbound to Boston. The transmission equipment was soon rebuilt and put into use the same autumn. North Hall was later used as home for the Department of Psychology and the Graduate School. It experienced numerous additions and renovations until it was destroyed by fire several years ago.

At the end of the campus along Boston Avenue is Hill Hall, a dormitory named for Robert William Hill, A04, H64. Judge Hill was an alumni trustee, a life trustee, organizer of the Tufts Alumni Council in 1934, president of the Tufts College Alumni Association and legal counselor to Tufts. A visit to the second and third level lounges in Hill Hall is recommended for the panoramic view of the Medford horizon and the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a delight for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

On the corner above Hill Hall where Packard Avenue leads into Capen Street is Lane Hall, which houses the Department of Geology, classrooms, fine arts studios and the Office of Purchasing. The building is named for Alfred Church Lane, H13, who taught geology at Tufts from 1909 to 1948 and who was Pearson Professor of Minerology from 1909 to 1936. Professor Lane was an internationally known authority on Michigan copper ores. A bay in Lake Superior and the mineral "Laneite" are both named for him.