The Chancellor's Walk
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Ghost Trees: The Chancellor's Walk


Brick walk to the chancellor's residence, 1920.
"This brick walk, pictured in the early 1920's was Chancellor Kirkland's usual path from office toward home, straight ahead through the trees." The front porch of the chancellor's residence can be seen at the end of the walk. A wing of the brand-new hospital (now part of Medical Center North) can be seen at the left side of the photo.
Photo from Vanderbilt University Photographic Archives; quote from McGaw, Robert A. 1978. The Vanderbilt Campus: A Pictoral History, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, p. 136.


Stevenson Center courtyard, 2014
Approximately the same location in 2014.
Photo by Steve Baskauf


The part of campus now occupied by Stevenson Center was a wooded area between the main campus and the mansion built by Bishop McTyeire for himself soon after the University was founded. The mansion was significantly bigger than the homes built for the first faculty (which included the existing Center for Health Services building and the Vaughn Home). This lead to some unhappiness on the part of the faculty at that time. After McTyeire's death, his home became the chancellor's residence.

Aerial photo, 1948
Aerial photo in 1948. The approximate location where the 1920s photo was taken is shown by an arrow. The path can be seen entering and exiting the trees.
Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives photo.


This was a somewhat secluded path until 1925 when the hospital was built just to the east of the residence. As the hospital grew through repeated additions, the chancellor's residence became more and more crowded until finally it was demolished in the 1960's. The Zerfoss Student Health Center was built on the site in 1967.

Aerial photo, 1959
Aerial photo in about 1959. The approximate location where the 1920s photo was taken is shown by the blue arrow. The path can be seen passing through the trees.
Photo courtesy of Facilities Information Services, Vanderbilt Campus Planning and Construction.


The trees visible in the photo from the 1920s were cut down when the Stevenson Center for the Natural Sciences was built starting in 1963. The magnolias visible at the right of the 2014 photo in the upper Stevenson Courtyard were probably behind and to the right of the viewing location of the 1920 photo. Besides the magnolias, the only tree in the courtyard surviving from that era is the giant sycamore which can be distinguished in the 1959 photo.

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