Challenges to President Ferguson
In December 1899, Dean Edwin Norton brought his conflict with President Ferguson to a head by submitting his resignation. The Board convened to meet with Norton and a delegation of the faculty that presented a series of resolutions concerning the “duties and prerogatives of the president and the dean.” The Board supported the faculty and Norton withdrew his resignation.
Completed at the end of 1898 and dedicated in 1899, during the brief administration of President Franklin La Du Ferguson (1898–1901), Pearsons Hall is the oldest of Pomona’s buildings still in use on its original site (southwest corner of College Avenue at Sixth Street). Third of the College’s early structures, it was originally dedicated primarily to science, with classrooms and laboratories for chemistry, physics and biology, and also housed the president’s office and the College’s first library.
Pearsons was constructed of cream-colored pressed brick and featured an open, central hall finished in oak, gas lights, and steam heat. Its porch and steps served as a gathering place for rallies and photographs. The building’s inset windows and round-arched entry with rusticated detail reflected the influence of renowned Boston architect H. H. Richardson, and its sober, cubic design, use of permanent materials, and modern facilities contrasted sharply with Sumner and Holmes halls. As Robert A.M. Stern, architect of the Smith Campus Center, has commented, when Pearsons was completed “Pomona began to take on the character it has had ever since—that of an imposing group of buildings that in varying ways addresses the issues of local climate and conditions and the idea of a college as a public institution with a deliberately civic rather than residential image.”
The building was named for Chicago philanthropist Dr. D.K. Pearsons (1820–1912) whom President Ferguson had interested in Pomona. A physician and farmer who later turned to real estate and then railways, Pearsons, who had no children, gave generously to a large number of American colleges. His gift to Pomona of $20,000, in tandem with a $12,000 grant from the Congregational Educational Society, gave the trustees sufficient confidence to purchase the necessary land for the hall in 1898.
In his report for 1898-99, President Ferguson stated that the faculty had been paid “the large arrears of their salaries from the previous years and had received their current salaries in such installments and with regularity as to relieve them of financial embarrassment.” He also noted that the College’s $100,000 endowment had been invested in first mortgages on improved real property paying interest of 6 to 8 percent.
- A peace treaty between the United States and Spain was ratified by the Senate.
- Queens and Staten Island merged with New York City.
- Felix Hoffmann patented aspirin and Bayer registered it as a trademark.
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