The Brandeis Grape Arbor?

A member of the Brandeis Orientation Committee once asked us:

“Was there really a grape arbor on the Brandeis campus?”

The answer is:YES.

The grape arborThe grape arbor

In fact, in the same approximate area (near the current Science complex) there was a grape arbor, a wishing well and a quaint crescent-shaped building affectionately called the Banana Building. The wishing well was a popular hangout for students and couples in the 1950s, a fact documented in photographs from the time period.

The Banana Building’s name derived from its shape and color: yellow with a light-green roof. Formerly a Middlesex University building, it served as a small animal hospital for the veterinary school. After Brandeis was founded, it became the first campus bookstore and housed the offices of early student newspapers.

The wishing wellThe wishing well, 1949-1952

The Brandeis Master Plan, begun in the early 1950s, did not accommodate rustic and quirky structures like the Banana Building, the grape arbor, the wishing well and the old horse stable that served as the first library. The Modernist-style buildings that soon populated the campus overshadowed and clashed with these pastoral structures, and they were eventually razed to make way for the burgeoning campus.

To find out more about these and other early campus structures, visit our online exhibit "Building Brandeis: Style and Function of a University".

February 14, 2009