Douglass Hall Update #7.08

7/8/1998

First of all, a word on version numbers. Because these articles seem to go out with a striking regularity (seems about once or twice a week...), I've changed the numbering system. These unofficial updates are all part of update #7. However, the number AFTER the decimal designates the day the update was released -- .08 refers to July 8th, .13 refers to 7/13, etc. Thus 7.01 is the previous report number.

Because today is Wednesday, I found yet another opportunity to roam through the annals of The Hall. Consequently, I have more news to report to you.

Discoveries!!

These are interesting, the rest is not. First of all, the rumors about the Memorial Platform being a swimming pool are TRUE!!! The platform was (rather crudely, in my opinion) created by filling it with concrete. Contrary to myth, there is no glass bottom nor are there any passages to The Hall. Thus the ghost stories are untrue.

Second of all, I found a closet full of ancient Menlo stuff inside the hall. This closet contained a whole bunch of exams from 1947-1952, a collection of silent black-and-white films and a grayscale cartoon! There was also an early mimeograph machine, a black wooden filing cabinet, several textbooks (from 1926?) and canceled checks dating back to 1942! This room has a rather unpleasant musky odor of books that haven't been touched in a long long time.

What about the books? These are textbooks written about Menlo! Has anybody ever heard of "The Spirit of Menlo" by Earl Reed Silvers? Copyrighted 1926. Apparently the author wrote this book based on his experiences in the early days of Menlo. I am currently trying to establish the actual date this book refers to, although the buildings had drastically different names. Senior House refers to Patterson, and some guy with a last name of Taylor lived in Mr. Halverson's apartment on the second floor. I believe that "Middle House" refers to Douglass Hall. [Update: A much later investigation by myself revealed that this wasn't at all true--the buildings referenced were torn down decades ago. Thanks to Albert the facilities manager for that.--D] I haven't been able to find any mention of the other buildings--mostly because most of the Menlo buildings you see today weren't built until the late 1950's through the early 1970's. Perhaps I should talk to Albert. If anybody's read this book, drop me a line. If you're interested, the book is about a non-wealthy guy who hails from New Jersey and travels cross-country to go to Menlo. Surrounded by rich folks, he tries to fit in, and makes it onto the football team. The third part of the book focuses on the football games at Stanford and other places. The story takes place some "three generations after '49 (meaning 1849)", placing the book sometime in the early 1920's.

No, I don't know if this is a novel or an autobiographical work or what as I've barely had a chance to skim it. Yes, you can find references to this book (and others by Silvers) in the Library of Congress.

How's THAT for a history lesson? I would not be surprised if somebody found even more stuff shoved in a closet in that building. They've already dumped an incredible amount of records from Menlo in the 1940's; apparently they're not done yet! If anybody wants to see this stuff, talk to Jim Carroll. His office is room 201 in Menlo Hall, and no I don't know his phone number.

Status Report

First of all, the building will be open to the school August 1st. However, many people react to this with rather skeptical remarks, and many doubt the building will be complete by then.

It probably won't.

The school will start moving furniture, computers, desks, books, etc in on August 1st. Concurrently, various contractors will put the final touches on the building. As it turns out, the third level will need plenty of work before it is complete, and a real roof needs to go on the building. The roof will go in before the end of July, but the third floor will mostly likely not be 100% complete. They still need to re-lay all the concrete that they tore up from the floor, reinstall the marble and wooden floors and patch the holes in the floor. In addition, many windows throughout the building need repair, as there's a lot of broken windows up there. (in case you wondered, the three banners "Building Our Future" swung around during high winds and broke windows...not constructive at all!) This work will probably continue through August; hence the offices probably won't be finished on August 27th. Not to worry; the classrooms and library are the highest priorities on the building.

Now, onto some good news. The library and classrooms are nearly finished! Most of the false ceilings and lights are in the new building; some rooms have already received a coat or two of paint. As I walked through the building, I saw the brand new paint had already been applied to the ceiling and walls. The rest of the building is decked out in tan stucco with green window trim. Many glass windows are already in. By the time August comes, the essential utilities will all be in place. Inside the new building, all the plasterboard has been put up and awaits painting. It is my belief that the lower two levels (level 1 & 2, the 'basement' and first floor) will be 99% complete on August 1st.

Construction Activity

Middle School ramps demolished; portables being prepared for relocation. The locker rooms and 601-2 go near Albert Vasquez's yard; the others will be placed around school (some on the quadrangle near the science buildings and one by the Patterson Annex. Some of these portables rest on trucks and tires!

Big trench dug to install water pipes. No word as to when this finishes; my guess is sometime by the end of the week or early next week.

Flag pole relocated to an obscure spot in the Valparaiso parking lot, along with a huge chunk of concrete.

Middle School loop demolished.

Stuff moved out of Ms. Mauser-Bain's studio; Hornbein and Carlson's rooms got painted where the hallway wall used to be. Whiteboard in Hornbein's room removed, revealing an electrical box of some sort behind it. Those hallway walls are simply wooden frames nailed to the floor with plasterboard covering the studs. No wonder the wall vibrates when somebody slams a door!

Communication lines installed through the middle of campus; this work is done.

All other buildings remain unchanged from the last report, 7.01.

Notes

This will most likely be the last of the summer updates, as I am gearing up to publish one "super-issue" on The Hall in the September Menlo Memo containing many photos and a complete description of everything that's been done to the building, from August 1997 through August 1998. I'll try to research more about The Hall's past.

...and there is a good chance I can come back and chronicle the Middle School construction, which is slated to start sometime in late September or early October.

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