High on the Hill

Dixon, Linda J.
1979

TALBOT AVENUE AND FRED STARK PEARSON

TALBOT AVENUE AND FRED STARK PEARSON

 

Talbot Avenue was named for Newton Talbot, H01, a trustee and from 1868 to 1904 the college treasurer. Sixty-five Talbot Avenue is the home of Paul I. Wren, son of Dean Frank G. Wren and for many years a trustee of Tufts. He, his wife, Alice and his son Paul, Jr., are all Tufts Alumni.

The large brick building across the street is the Pearson Memorial Laboratory, a building devoted solely to chemistry. It was named for Fred Stark Pearson of the class of 1883, one of our country's most amazing scientific geniuses during the great period of expansion of the

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electrical power industry. As an undergraduate at Tufts (while earning part of his expenses as ticket agent at the college railroad station), he invented a solenoid tripping device for railroad signals. Later he designed basic items of equipment in the electric streetcar and power industry. By the time he was 37, his salary was $75,000 per year. He was responsible for the electrification of some of the great cities of the world: Barcelona, Spain; Mexico City, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil. He organized the great hydroelectric installation on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. At the height of this brilliant career, Pearson died in the sinking of the Lusitania. The German kaiser singled out his name from the list of those lost and expressed regret at the death of so illustrious an engineer.

The recent addition to Pearson Laboratory is named for a remarkable scientist, Arthur Michael. He was not a graduate of this or any other college, but he taught chemistry at Tufts from 1881 to 1890 and from 1894 to 1907. As chairman of the Department of Chemistry, he led the department to international renown, and he was one of the first theoretical organic chemists in America. In recognition, Tufts College awarded him three honorary degrees.

The building behind Pearson Laboratory was built as a clubhouse for the golf course. It was acquired by Tufts to serve as a gymnasium for the Jackson women, who had been sharing the facilities (on alternate days, of course) of Goddard Gym with the men. Today it houses the Tufts Arena Theater, one of the first arena-type theaters in the country. Although the playhouse itself is unpretentious, it has been the site of many pioneering efforts in theater productions.