I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her* Face
by Mary Shipp Bartlett
Chances are I’ll be considered a cultural ignoramus by some when I admit that I wasn’t bowled over by Scripps’ landscape and architecture when I first saw the campus. Perhaps I can be forgiven, since I was only seven. I was much more taken with Richard Armour’s goats, which he kept in his Claremont backyard.
Before I came to work for Scripps, in 1997, I had been on the campus only one other time. That was in 1993, when I was interviewing for a position at Harvey Mudd College. I had a few minutes to kill before my appointment, so I walked around the perimeter of that distinguished college with its “60s industrial chic” architecture. I soon found myself at the corner of 12th and Columbia, transfixed by the sight across the street: lovely white buildings with red tile roofs, surrounded by graceful trees and plantings. Now, that’s a college, I thought. And it was only the rear view of Grace Scripps Clark Hall!
I didn’t get the job at Harvey Mudd (my would-be colleagues wanted to know if I was a “Trekkie”; I’d seen nary a complete Star Trek episode in my life, so I washed out). On the other hand, my father had made sure I could pronounce Goethe at age 12. I was meant to wind up at Scripps.
Still, the campus didn’t immediately seem like “home” to me, unlike Eric Haskell’s first impression (see his fascinating and heartfelt article, p. 14). I had been used to something entirely different in a college environment.
Reading the Scripps College Landscape and Architectural Blueprint, which is the focus of this issue, gave me a clearer understanding of how this campus creeps into your heart and soul—if not with a wham, then with continuous gentle blows. Slowly, the true beauty of the Scripps campus has become part of my aesthetic sense. This is a place that, while undeniably lovely at first sight, grows on you day by day as you live or work here.
I hope after you read the articles in this issue, and perhaps visit the full Blueprint online, you will gain an even great appreciation for the vision of Miss Scripps and the work of Gordon Kaufmann and Edward Huntsman-Trout. In 1928, Huntsman-Trout wrote:
…with all the courts and patios which our present predilection for the Mediterranean sort of expression is giving us, so few of them succeed with just the right balance of shelter and airiness, of sunlight and shade, of enclosure and space. When these wants are all satisfied in one, the garden is truly what it should be, another room in the home, a place in which to eat or play, or to gossip, or where we may expose the sleepy pores to the friendly ultraviolet ray of the sun. All of which adds up to equal importance with the living room, if not the kitchen.
Also in this issue:”So, you think you know Scripps,” on p. 8, quizzes you on your knowledge of special architectural details. Warning: it’s not easy; a College vice president, whose name we dare not reveal, missed several.
A profile of Eleanor Nicholson ’32, perhaps one of the College’s most adventuresome alumnae—and there have been many—is found on p. 24. Eleanor lived with her family in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years and has written two books about her experiences.
“Post Scripps,” on p. 36, features senior Sara Fingal’s account of Rachel Carson’s visit to Scripps to give the commencement address, in 1962, when Carson was dying of cancer. Sara is writing her senior thesis on Carson.
And, although we’ve printed their names before, it’s important to acknowledge the men and women who served on the Landscape and Architectural Blueprint Committee, headed by vice presidents James Manifold and Martha H. Keates. Members include: Paula Barnett, Fred Carlson, Bruce Coats, Eric Haskell, Mary Davis MacNaughton ’70, Bernie Osborn, Judy Harvey Sahak ’64, Lola Trafecanty, and Carolyn Wagner ’72.
*Scripps’, that is.