A new residence hall was completed. First called “the fifth dormitory” and later known as “North,” the building was designed by the firm of Pilcher & Tachau. Lewis F. Pilcher, professor of art from 1900 until 1911, also taught architecture classes. He and his partner, William G. Tachau, designed the Frances A. Wood house (1904) and the Goodfellowship House (1908).
The new building’s eccentricities—a nine-story tower section (with a 30,000 gallon water tank under its roof and an elevator) behind a four-story, low-rise section and eclectic ornamentation including animal figures and grotesque masks—instantly set it apart from the other quadrangle halls’ simpler designs, causing some of the architect’s faculty colleagues to refer to it as “Pilcher’s crime.”
Two short poems by Alma deVries ‘08 in The Vassar Miscellany suggest that some students were also bemused:
A Natural Query
Said a Freshman of wit quite vivacious:
“Will you pardon a question audacious
Behind your North Hall
Can you tell me at all
What that tall building is?—Oh, good gracious!”
A Pleasure Trip
A maiden whose name we must hide,
On the ninth floor of North once was spied.
When asked: “Have you friends here a few,
Or did you come for the view?”
Said, “No, I just came for the ride.”
At the time of the college's 50th anniversary celebration in 1915, the building was renamed Jewett House in honor of the college's first president, Milo P. Jewett.