Dominoes - Old West Dormitory Room, Dickinson College,
Old West, where the subject photograph was taken, is the oldest of the
buildings at Dickinson. Construction began in August, 1803 and the building was
then first used in November, 1805. The cost of building Old West was
approximately $20,000, though that, of course, does not include the cost of
additional construction over the years. Old West was designed by Benjamin
Latrobe, who is best known for his design of the National Capitol Building in
Washington D.C. The college received financial help for building Old West from
influential men at the time, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John
Marshall. Architectural historian Talbot Hamlin once said of Old West, it is
"One of the most distinguished, and certainly the most subtly designed, of all
early American college structures, for its distinction is found not on ornament,
but on solid qualities of functional planning, good proportion, and excellent
materials beautifully used."(5) On April 25th, 1963, Old West was
recognized as a National Historical Landmark. At one point Old West housed eighty students, the College library, chapel,classrooms, Kitchen, and dining facilities. Now it strictly accommodates
administrative offices but "although its function has changed over time, since
1805 it has served as the aesthetic and symbolic center of Dickinson
This photograph was taken in Room 41 in Old West during 1891. The four
students in the room are the two residents of the room, Harry Stock and
Cornelius Prettyman, along with Cornelius' younger brother Virgil and Robert
MacAlarney. They are posed playing a game of dominoes.
Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson
Cornelius "Dutch" Prettyman,class of 1891.
Prettyman was the vice-president of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and a member of the tennis club, and also a scholar included Phi
Beta Kappa. An interesting little fact about the Prettyman boys is that their
father was one of the founding fathers of the Dickinson chapter of Beta Theta
Pi.(2) Cornelius was the director of alumni personals for the
Dickinsonian and a member of the Union Philosophical Society.
Little did his domino playing friends know of his eventual influence on their
College. After graduating from Dickinson, Cornelius earned a master's and
doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, and returned to Carlisle in 1900 to
institute to the first separate department of Germanic Languages and
Literature. He was professor of German from 1900 to 1944 when he was named
as the twenty-second President of Dickinson College. His tenure was not a
long one and he died at the age of 74 on August 9, 1946. Cornelius did
leave his mark though in his two years as president, as one student said about
him, "He greets the students with a friendliness and frankness that has already
won their confidence and respect."(3)
Robert MacAlarney and Virgil Prettyman
Not much is really known of Cornelius' brother, Virgil. He graduated in
1892, and like his father and older brother he was a Beta, and a member of the
Union Philosophical Society. He the assistant editor of the Microcosm,
and he was the first banjo in the Banjo Club. After graduation, he became an
instructor of Greek and Latin at the Dickinson Preparatory School. In 1895, he
moved on to New York City and became the Principal of the Horace Mann School.
While principal of Horace Mann, he was elected President of the New York
School-Masters Association. (4) The Prettyman Gymnasium at Horace Mann was named after Virgil.
This photograph was taken in 1890 of the five men who participated
on the men's gymnastics squad.
Westwood, the man at the top of the pyramid, hailed from Camden, New Jersey and was a freshman at the time the photograph was taken. He was a member of the Belles Lettres
Society, one of the first social organizations at the College. It has since been
Henry Budd hailed from the great state of Delaware, and was in
his third year at the college. He was the President of the College YMCA, to
which all members of the gymnastics team belonged.
Cornelius Prettyman, standing bottom left, was a junior who came from Upper Fairmount, Maryland. He and his younger brother Virgil attended the college at the same time for two
years. He was the Vice President of his class, as well as a member of the Beta
Theta Pi fraternity. His athleticism went beyond the gymnasium, for he was
a member of Dickinson's varsity tennis team, which at the time was only one of
three varsity sports, alongside baseball and football which the school
The fourth member of the group was sophomore Van Pierce Northrup
from Hurlock, Maryland. He was a member of the varsity football team who
must have made an immediate impact for he was listed as a starter. He, as well
as Westwood, was a member of Belles Lettres.
Extensive research failed, sadly, to
identify the fifth man.
|Dickinson College Men's Gymnastics Team
1890*Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson College
|Henry Budd|| ||
Prettyman|| ||Van Pierce Northrup|
See more Virgil Prettyman at the Horace Mann School Gym
1) Dickinson College
Archives, Drop file for Harry Bixler Stock, class of 1891.
Alumni Directory, under Cornelius Prettyman, class of 1891
3) Dickinson College
Archives, Drop file for Cornelius Prettyman.
4) Dickinson Alumni
Directory, Virgil Prettyman, class of 1892
5) Dickinson College
Archives, Drop file for Old West Building.
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