Blaisdell Again Chooses Pomona
Beloit College, in need of a president, looked west to Pomona’s President James Blaisdell, who was a Beloit graduate and had been a well-loved Beloit professor. Having declined an earlier call from his alma mater in 1917, Blaisdell gave signs that he was seriously considering the offer this time around. In order to retain him, Trustee George Marston pressed the other members of the Board to commit themselves more fully to the “Three Million Dollar Campaign,” which had not progressed as Blaisdell hoped. That commitment may have played a role in Blaisdell’s decision once again to decline the offer and to stay at Pomona.
Dean Ernest Jaqua
With the retirement of Dean Edwin Norton, Pomona sought its second dean of the faculty, and President Blaisdell settled on Ernest Jaqua, a scholar whose career he had followed for years. Due to a his recent acceptance of a position as dean of men at Colorado College, Jaqua was unable to accept when first offered the position in 1922, so Blaisdell kept the position open for him, and Jaqua came to Pomona in 1923.
Mason Hall of Chemistry
In 1923, students and faculty at the College were excited to see the completion of construction of Mason Hall, a state-of-the-art chemistry facility. The impressive reinforced concrete structure stretched the entire length of the block from Fifth to Sixth streets on Harvard Avenue; then the westernmost of Pomona’s buildings, it extended the boundaries of the campus. Wilson Lyon wrote that the building was considered “an ornament to the campus and to the city,” not only for its design, which included an imposing tower, but also because its more than one acre of laboratory space and up-to-date science facilities were among the most coveted in the nation.
Planning for Mason Hall was initiated by a gift from William S. Mason, a trustee, businessman and philanthropist from Chicago. Mason, a friend of Judge Charles G. Neely, who had taught Constitutional History and Law at Pomona since 1912, had, in 1915, covered the cost of landscaping the south side of Sixth Street between Harvard and Dartmouth avenues. According to Neely’s remarks at the dedication of Mason Hall, Mason, who had requested that his name not be mentioned, had visited the College one day and asked President Blaisdell what was needed. When a women’s dormitory, an athletic field, and a gymnasium were suggested, Mason seemed uninterested, but he was excited about the idea of a chemistry building.
Mason’s first thought was to extend Pearsons Hall to create improved facilities for chemistry, but over the course of several years, it was decided that an entirely new building would be constructed. With the onset of war, the cost of the projected building nearly doubled. Mason cemented his position as a great friend of the College by donating $100,000 over and above the $200,000 he had already given. The design of the building followed the recommendations of Associate Professor Edward P. Bartlett, who had studied the newest chemistry facilities throughout the country. Bartlett was determined that Pomona would be “one of the strongholds of chemistry in the Southwest,” and the completion of Mason Hall launched a new era of science at Pomona College. In Wilson Lyon’s words: “The two stories and basement of Mason Hall of Chemistry, with its 80 rooms and an acre of laboratory space, must have seemed a paradise to the students and faculty who previously had known only the chemical laboratories in the basement of Pearsons Hall.”
Crookshank Hall of Zoology
Mason wasn’t the only new building completed in 1923. The north side of Pomona’s science quadrangle took form more quickly than anticipated. In 1921, with plans already in the works for Mason Hall, another friend of the College, David Carnes Crookshank, offered to give a building for Zoology. Crookshank owned citrus acreage in La Verne and was a member of the board of directors of the California Fruit Growers Exchange. He was also a contractor—his work for the College had included the renovation of Holmes Hall and the construction of Harwood Court—who foresaw the benefits of combining construction projects. Although his donation of $100,000 to the College came in the form of common stock and bonds (from the Keystone Iron and Steel Works in Los Angeles), the trustees worked out financing that allowed the project to be undertaken at the same time as Mason Hall. Taking advantage of a dramatically rapid course of events, President Blaisdell, during morning chapel on April 25, 1921, announced that construction was set to begin immediately. As Charles Burt Sumner wrote: “The assembly was excused, marched to the ground, and at the President’s word the steam shovel started the work.”
Crookshank Hall’s facilities—21,000 square feet of laboratories and classrooms designed with the participation of Zoology Professor William Atwood Hilton—could accommodate 200 students working simultaneously. The building was shared with Botany and housed that department’s herbarium. Along with the equally new Mason Hall, and with improvements in Pearsons Hall for Physics and Mathematics, Pomona now boasted state-of-the-art facilities that would serve for years to come.
Professor Everett S. Olive and “Primavera”
Everett S. Olive, pianist and composer, came to Pomona as a professor of music in 1923, and soon thereafter, began to compose College songs, including one of Pomona’s most revered songs, “Primavera.”
Pomona and USC football inaugurated the Los Angeles Coliseum with its first event on Oct. 6. The L.A. Times’ Bill Henry reported: “The USC Trojans swallowed the Pomona Sagehens, 23-7, yesterday but found the gravel-fed bird from Claremont entirely too tough for easy digestion.”
First published in 1923, The Sagehen was “the first comic magazine put out by Pomona students.”
The 1924 Metate (published by the junior class in 1923) included a women’s organization called the Hiking Club. The group served as an information bureau, providing information on trails and organizing overnight trips and short hikes to allow members to “become acquainted with the mountains and canyons near Claremont.”
- President Harding died of a heart attack and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge.
- Roy and Walt Disney founded The Walt Disney Company.
- Adolf Hitler led the Nazis in the so-called Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government.