Experiments in Coeducation and Preservation at Cornell University
Sage Hall traces the history of Cornell’s iconic, Victorian gothic building that has been home to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate
School of Management since 1998. Designed as a state-of-the-art facility by Charles Babcock, Cornell’s first architecture professor,
and built in the 1870s as Sage Residential College for Women, Cornell’s first dormitory for women, Sage Hall had become
sadly dilapidated by the time it underwent comprehensive reconstruction and renovation in 1996-98. Author Bob Stundtner managed the massive,
complex project that wholly replaced the building’s interior while retaining the historic exterior walls to create a new home for Johnson. Together,
co-authors Stundtner and Cleland tell the story of the building and its reconstruction, weaving the story of their own courtship into the narrative.
The book begins with characterizations of Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, and Andrew D. White, Cornell’s first president, whose ideas about the importance of educating women inspired benefactor Henry Sage to fund Sage Residential College for Women. Subsequent chapters touch on the role New York state women played in social reform movements, including abolition and women’s rights, and on what life was like for Cornell women who were student residents of Sage.
The book's detailed account of the renovation project begins with the $20 million gift from Sam and Imogene Johnson that made it possible. The authors catalogue the project’s myriad hurdles — legal, practical, structural, and aesthetic — and relate the dedication of all involved in the reconstruction to restore as much of the grand, original structure as possible. It ends with Stundtner’s final project update of Sept. 20, 1998 — an overview of the transformation from inception to completion.