The Centennial History of Tufts College, 1952

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Literature and Piety

Literature and Piety


On July 23, 1853, the cornerstone of the first building, now called Ballou Hall, was laid with appropriate exercises. Over 1500 persons were present. This original "college edifice" still stands, although much altered


internally. It is now the administration building of the college. In architecture it
is a simple Italian Renaissance structure. As originally planned it contained a chapel, a library, recitation rooms, a dormitory, bathing accommodations, and, interestingly enough, rooms for two literary organizations.

The societies which used these rooms were called the Mathetican and the Walnut Hill Fraternity. Other intercollegiate societies soon followed. In 1855 and in 1856 two national fraternities were founded at Tufts. At later periods other national fraternities have established chapters here. Before the present beautiful fraternity houses were erected on the campus, meeting rooms were rented in Usher's Block in Medford Square. Here the gown sometimes mystified the town by dark-hooded ritual performances.


Before the building of Ballou Hall was complete, the Reverend William A. Drew, editor of a prominent religious magazine of the day, sat beneath a window in the unfinished chapel and inscribed a quotation in Latin from Horace and added these words: "Sacred to a progressive literature and to an enlightened piety be this place!" — a prayer that has been a worthy guide for the college through the years.

In 1854 students entered Tufts. Regular freshman class work began in 1855. From this time on academic work has continued without interruption.