The HAs of Old Dorm Block and Anna Mann present…
ODB: A History
Old Dorm Block, 1920. Photograph. Reed College Hauser Library Special Collections and Archives. Portland, Oregon.
In 1912, when the building’s construction began, the building’s architects designed the campus in the Tudor Revival style of Saint John’s College at Oxford in order to signify the college’s mission of scholasticism and create the visual ambience of an elite college.
The original campus master plan organizes the academic and residential buildings around connected quadrangles. Old Dorm Block was the second building constructed, after Eliot Hall (formerly the Arts and Sciences Building). The plan proposes forty-nine buildings, comprising two colleges, a men’s and women’s. A central quadrangle divides the colleges and opens onto several gardens, much like Saint John’s College’s Front Quadrangle, which opens onto The Gardens.
House F residents pose with their prize, originally swiped from an Eastmoreland residence.
Doyle owl: “Strigidus cementus. Unofficial mascot of Reed College (the official mascot being the griffin (q.v.). While the griffin is a mythical beast, the Doyle Owl is concretely real, although most of the tales of the owl are myths. The original owl was a local piece of garden sculpture, which was carried off as a prank by students living in House F (later renamed Doyle). Since then, there have been many incarnations of the Doyle Owl; the present avatar is owl number 23, plus or minus 11. Almost all of them are made of concrete and weigh over 100 pounds (although there was at least one anti-owl, made of papier-mâché). Contrary to prevalent myth, the Owl was never one of the animals adorning the roof of Old Dorm Block; those are and always have been beavers.” (From “The New (Olde) Reed Almanac” Reed Magazine, 2011)
ODB “Doubles” Myth! “The reason why some rooms are big and some are small is because Reed used to be for elite students who brought their butlers and/or servants. The butlers and/or servants lived in the small rooms.” FALSE. We’re pretty sure that they used to be all huge rooms and have since had walls erected, dividing them into two living quarters, explaining why only the inner rooms have built-in closets. Although I’m sure someone tried to bring a butler at some point…
The Sundial: According to alumnus Beatrice Olson, ‘24, the sundial on the south side of ODB tells time most accurately on the following days of the year: 4/20, 6/9, 9/3, 12/22… at least when there is sun… (Reed Oral Histories)
No Boys Allowed… Unless: In the 1940s, male-bodied visitors in women’s dorm rooms had to keep “one foot in the hall all the time” (Reed Oral Histories, Phyllis Glasener Whitman ’44). But I heard it was “one foot on the floor”… either way this is pretty great.
Phyllis Whitman on the Old Dorm Block roof, 1943. Photograph.
Reed College Hauser Library Special Collections and Archives. Portland, Oregon.
Old Dorm Poets (errr.. I mean Anna Mann Poets…): Poets Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder ’51 gave a poetry reading in Anna Mann in February 1956, from which the first known recording of Ginsberg’s “Howl” was taken.
KRRC in ODB: The KRRC was originally run out of the Doyle basement, next to the washing machines (which are still located in the same spot!). KRRC has since moved just across the way in the Student Union.
DJ in the KRRC station, ca. 1989. Photograph. Reed College Hauser Library Special Collections and Archives. Portland, Oregon.
Daring Climber: While he was a Reed student, Gary Snyder ‘51 was spotted climbing up a rope dangling from his girlfriend’s third floor window of Ladd. He clearly wasn’t keeping one foot in the hall.
Jobs posing with the Doyle Owl in Palo Alto, CA in 1996 (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Stone ’99)
The Man, the Myth, the ODB resident: Steve Jobs reportedly lived on the third floor of Westport during his short tenure at Reed before leaving us for bigger and better things (read: computers). Here’s a Quest article about our most famous dropout complete with a few great quotes from him about his time at Reed.
Ghosts: I know you wanted to hear about hauntings in ODB, but, honestly, we don’t think there are any. Yet.
And, finally, watch this awesome silent film of Reed campus scenes, filmed 1938-1942 by student Donald G. Krause! Trü Olde Reed!
The ODB/Anna Mann House Advisor staff hope you enjoyed this read! Come back soon, ya hear?