Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
Barnum Hall, 1884
|Barnum Hall was constructed in 1884 with funds donated to Tufts College by P.T. Barnum. Barnum donated the building to house his collection of animal specimens and featured the stuffed hide of Jumbo the elephant. Thus the building was initially known as the Barnum Museum of Natural History. The architect of the original structure was Phillip Rinn.|
Announcement of the building of the Barnum Museum, made at the same time as that of the Goddard Gymnasium, was greeted with joy by students. Following the announcement, a huge bonfire was built on the hill while students cheered and rang the bell continuously.
Two wings were later added to the building. In 1894, a west wing was added with facilities for classrooms, laboratories, and a library, funded by a bequest from Barnum's estate. In 1935, an east wing was constructed to provide additional lab space and offices for increasing enrollments. This wing was named for Professor Lambert. The Dana Laboratory was added to the west wing of the building in 1963 to bring the laboratory facilities to the level required by the increasing needs of the Department of Biology.
On April 14, 1975, a fire that began in faulty wiring in a refrigeration unit in the building gutted the Barnum Museum. The collection housed in the building was completely lost, including numerous animal specimens, Barnum's desk and bust, and the stuffed hide of Jumbo. Damage to the east and west wings of the building was not as great, but faculty research materials were lost. The Dana Laboratory was unharmed by the blaze. The building was rebuilt within the original stone facade the following summer, but only to the height of the Dana Laboratory building. The architects of the post-fire renovations were Kubitz and Pepi.
As of 1999, Barnum Hall continues to serve as the location of the Department of Biology.
Source: LOH2, 293-295; BG2.; RNTB1; VFI
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.