Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Kursaal, 1940-84


In 2002 many students enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Brown and Brew. What many of them do not know is that at one time in the basement of Curtis Hall dwelt a predecessor: the much beloved hangout called Kursaal.

According to former Tufts President Leonard Carmichael, the eatery/refreshment stand was named after a term used in Switzerland and European resorts to describe a pump room or casino. The President thought it was a good name for a place "where students might 'take the cure' after the rigors of hard study."Later students, unaware of the origins of the name, believed it stood for a shortening of Curtis Hall, or was derived from an African phrase.

The Kursaal first appeared within unused rooms in the recently built Cousens Gymnasium in 1940, yet moved into Curtis Hall shortly thereafter. Curtis Hall was converted into a barracks during World War II, and offered up attractive dining space once the soldiers left.

Unlike Brown and Brew, Kursaal utilized two floors and several rooms, originally featuring blue walls and brown upholstery. In 1962, due to student complaints of 'depressing' and 'morbid,' the original interior was renovated, brown and blue giving way to a black and white theme.

Originally intended as a place for the rest and relaxation of off-the Hill students and alumni, Kursaal soon came to be a favorite for all. As there was no official campus center, the Kursaal ably served as such. Card-playing, reading, playing ping-pong, watching TV, eating, and drinking were the activities of the day.

Not all, unfortunately, was fun and games. Controversy was soon to come in a scene similar to the 2000 "TVs-in-Dewick" complaint, a mild protest was waged upon the installation of a new, more expensive and 'corporate' jukebox in 1964.

A fire in Curtis Hall in 1977 damaged the concession, but the Kursaal continued to provide a popular student gathering place. Then, on December 14, 1984, the Kursaal posted its last menu. On February 1, 1985, with expanded menu and facilities, the Campus Commons opened in the new Elizabeth van Huysen Mayer Campus Center, and the Kursaal was replaced. The basement of Curtis Hall where the Kursaal once lay is now unused except for storage, though the Center for Environmental Management had for a time occupied the area.

Sources: TCAB; TW; LOH2; BG#1; TJ

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  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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