On Tuesday, July 8th the MHHDC hosted a walking tour of Teachers College & Union Theological Seminary led by Columbia University professor, community expert and author of “Morningside Heights: A History of its Architecture and Development,” Andrew S. Dolkart.
The tour began on the windy corner of Broadway and 120th Street. Professor Dolkart then guided us through the chapels, hallways and court yards of TC & UTS where he unveiled the history and stories behind each of our stops.
Our first stop was to see the Casavant Organ and the five “Clayton Bell of London” glass windows in Milbank Memorial Chapel. As Professor Dolkart taught us about the history of this remarkable place everyone couldn’t help but stare, captivated by the Chapel’s beauty. Endless camera shutters echoed throughout the room as attendees and committee members alike rushed to take pictures of this stunning auditorium, gilded in “Tiffany” blue and gold stenciled decor. Thompson & Grace Dodge Halls were full of wonderful pictures and marble reliefs lining the hallways. In the latter hall was artwork that had been gifted to Teachers College by Jean Claude & Christo of the 2005 Central Park “The Gates” exhibit fame.
Before we continued on to the “Russell Courtyard,” we stopped to acknowledge the five relief tiles that marked the school’s original entrance. Each tile depicted a different task of the colonial housewives’ home industries such as: sewing, spinning, churning, weaving and cooking.
On we went, leaving Teachers College to see the architectural jewels inside Union Theological Seminary.
Our first stop in UTS was the lobby, which was domed by Guastavino ceiling tiles which continued all the way down the left hallway. As we stood outside The Burke Library we all looked up at the circular marbled staircase before we continued on down more Gothic hallways towards the James Memorial Chapel.
The chapel houses the “Holtkamp Organ” which was installed in 1980 after the space was renovated in the late 1970’s to “allow more flexible space for grace.”
Finally, after what felt like miles of Gothic hallways, we found ourselves in the large inner courtyard. Trees lined the archway, forming the perfect amount of shade and the city seemed to slip away. Allen & Collen’s academic quadrangle was quite peaceful, their amazing English scholastic Gothic style design took our breath away. It came as no surprise when we learned that many T.V. shows and movies film at this location.
The tour ended on 122nd Street and Broadway where we stopped to admire the corner’s cityscape complete with the Manhattan School of Music & the Jewish Theological Seminary buildings, the submerging subway, and some ongoing road repairs.
- Betsy Lind,
Executive Committee Member