Newcomb College's Broadway Campus


In 1908, the present Newcomb Campus was purchased for $434,672. This campus includes the entire second block of Audubon place, and two squares bounded by Zimple, Broadway, Plum, and Audubon Street, which were chosen because the property adjoined the main campus of Tulane University. Newcomb College was always a part of Tulane, but in the 1908 purchase, it was the intent of the administrators to allow greater sharing of laboratories and libraries as well as the employment of professors at the colleges for men and women.

The Newcomb alumnae were alarmed with the purchase since the Washington Avenue campus had offered considerable independence and indeed the feeling of a women’s college isolated from that of men. The move to Broadway did not occur for another decade (in 1918), by which time, Newcomb students were more pleased with the move, though still wishing to create an atmosphere where women were educated separately from men. During the 1910s, for example, Newcomb students became more involved in various efforts of the University, such as participation as cheerleaders at football games, and even as managers of the various male teams. At the same time, Newcomb students had their own student government and student athletic teams that they brought to the Broadway campus. Male students were the first to cross-register into Newcomb art and music classes. Newcomb students made the reverse journey by attending classes at Tulane in such subjects as business, law, medicine, and journalism.

When Newcomb was first set up on Broadway, there were only four buildings. These included Newcomb Hall, the Josephine Louise dormitory, the art building, and the power plant. However, from 1923 on, the campus experienced rapid growth, and it was forced to evolve to match both the increase in enrollment and the needs of the University, students, faculty, and staff alike.

Newcomb Hall

From the first day Newcomb College opened its doors on the Broadway campus, Newcomb Hall was the heart of the school. As the administrative stronghold of the college, most of the departments in Newcomb College have, at some point, claimed Newcomb Hall as their office base.

A sharp contrast to the breathtaking beauty that goes hand in hand with the lush foliage that surrounds the Newcomb campus is President Dixon’s description of the campus in 1918, as being, “a bare muddy waste, with scanty grass, a few distorted trees, and three very large red brick buildings, naked and forlorn” (186).

Despite their initial reservations, however, the students of Newcomb seized the opportunity to mold their new home with vigor and they were directly responsible for the oaks that are present today. Rallying to the challenge, students worked hard to shape both the physical and academic landscape, and despite occasional interruptions, the student body seemed to settle comfortably into their new home. More than once invading Tulanians from Camp Martin had to be reminded that Newcomb was not the seat of World War I, no matter how much they wished it were, just so they would have an excuse to visit the campus.

Currently, Newcomb Hall houses classes and laboratories, as well as offices for the departments of Philosophy, Communication, Sociology, and all foreign languages. There is also a state-of-the-art language laboratory that is housed on the fourth floor.

Myra Clare Rogers Memorial Chapel

In his book, “A Brief History of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College 1887-1919: A Personal Reminiscence,” President Dixon mentioned that the move to the Broadway campus was a good thing, as the new buildings were better adapted for college use, but that the school was still missing many vital elements, including an assembly hall and a chapel.

College benefactress, Josephine Louise Newcomb (1816-1901), had expressed a wish for a nonsectarian chapel on its campus, and Washington Avenue had had such a place, beloved by students. Despite selling all the buildings on the Washington campus, Newcomb reserved their old chapel, and seriously considered taking it apart, stone by stone, and relocating it to the new Broadway campus. Nothing came of this consideration, and the old building was also sold, after extracting and putting into storage the Tiffany windows, which were originally created at the request of Mrs. Newcomb, and chapel furniture for the future chapel.

Eventually, the windows were put in the new Myra Clare Rogers Chapel that was completed in the 1970s, thanks to a donation in 1945 from the brother of the late Myra Clare Rogers, a Newcomb graduate of the class of 1896 and a professor at both Newcomb High and College. Until the chapel’s completion in 1976, Newcomb had to make use of the basement of Newcomb Hall for services.

The chapel is used today for religious services, lectures, weddings, and other events.

Broadway Campus Gymnasium, Pool, and Woodward Way

In 1923, a new gymnasium was built on campus, along with an annex that housed a swimming pool, thanks to the assistance of Mr. Irby. Besides a new gymnasium and pool, tennis courts and an athletic field were also built between 1923 and 1929, as well as corresponding walks and driveways.

Through the efforts of Physical Education instructor, Clara Baer, on both the Broadway and Washington Avenue campuses, the physical health of Newcomb’s students was maintained. Besides inventing Newcomb Ball, Ms. Baer fought to allow girls to wear bloomers and stockings instead of full skirts, but it took until 1935 for students to be allowed to wear more comfortable gym clothing.

The swimming pool was opened in 1924, also through a donation by William Irby, and wasn’t only used for swim classes. The Newcomb synchronized swim team, the Barracudas, dominated the waters with their complex performances. Unfortunately, the synchronized swimming program ended at Newcomb when coach Alicia Crew left the university, and eventually the swimming test graduation requirement was lifted, both in the late 1970s. Neither left without making a positive impression about exercise to the undergraduates that participated.

Woodward Way, which was named after Ellsworth Woodward, a former art professor at Newcomb, was the passage that linked the art school and the gym, but because the gym is now part of the art building, the pool is the sculpture studio, and a sculpture garden is located in this area. Due to renovations in the 1990s, Woodward Way is now more of an enclosed hallway that connects the wings of the building.

New Doris Hall

New Doris Hall was built, along with Butler and Johnston Hall, after 1954 to accommodate the explosion of applicants to Newcomb. Of the three women’s residency halls, only Butler still stands today, though it is now a co-ed honors dorm.

New Doris was demolished in 2006 to make way for the new dorm, Weatherhead Hall, named after Newcomb graduate, Celia Weatherhead and her husband, Albert J. Weatherhead.

Doris Hall

When it was built in 1925, Doris Hall was home to 28 girls. It was named for Doris Zemurray Stone, herself a graduate of Radcliffe College and the daughter of Tulane donor, Samuel Zemurray. Built as a cooperative dormitory, Doris Hall provided an option to students to set tables and such in exchange for reduced housing fees.

However, after the completion of New Doris Hall in 1958, Doris Hall halted operating as a cooperative dorm, but continued into the late 1980s to house students, until the mid 1990s, when it was torn down.

Warren House

The construction of Doris Hall was followed in 1928 by the construction of a larger dormitory, Warren Newcomb House.

Warren House is named for the husband of Josephine Louise, and in 1952, an additional wing was successfully added, expanding the dorm to house around 178 students, most of whom were sophomores and juniors.

Warren in presently a coed dorm for sophomores and juniors, and is also home to a handful of freshmen males.

Dixon Hall

Dixon Hall was built in 1929 to house a music building, auditorium, library, and a memorial to President Dixon, who retired in 1919 after 32 years. Subsequent leaders of the College were called “deans.” Dixon had long dreamed of creating a worthy home for Newcomb’s music program, and he expressed his regret that he was unable to do so during his term.

President Dixon himself made the dedicatory address in honor of the building, and his speech had such power that he brought his entire audience to tears with his account of the College’s past and his hopes for its future.

In 1984, Dixon underwent renovations, including the construction of the Dixon Annex, which was carefully designed to match the rest of the Newcomb Campus.

Works Cited

Coyle, Georgen. “Letter to Ms. Mary Elizabeth Jackson Carlisle About the Myra Claire Rogers Chapel.” Print.

Dixon, Brandt V.B. “A Brief History of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College 1887-1919: A Personal Reminiscence.” New Orleans: Hauser Printing Company. 1928.

Dyer, John P. “Tulane: The Biography of a University 1834-1965.” New York: Harper and Row. 1966.

Kingsley, Karen. “Designing for Women: The Architecture of Newcomb College.” Newcomb College, 1886-2006: Higher Education for Women in New Orleans. Ed. Susan Tucker and Ed. Beth Willinger. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012. 109. Print.

“Report of the President of the University to the Administration of the Tulane Educational Fund.” 10 December 1958, Print.

Salm, Josephine. “Old Doris Residence Hall Still Awaits Renovation.” Tulane Hullabaloo [New Orleans] 03 March 2000, Print.

Travis, Mary Ann. “Bloomers, Barracudas, and Basquette: When Newcomb Got Physical.” Tulanian. Spring 1996. Print.

Tucker, Susan, and Beth Willinger. “Newcomb College, 1886-2006: Higher Education for Women in New Orleans.” Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012. Print.

This page was last modified on 22 October 2012, at 11:06