Sanborn House


This is Sanborn House, home of the English department at Dartmouth College. It contains faculty offices, seminar rooms, and, most important to English majors, a library with Oxford editions of all the major and minor English and American authors, quiet alcoves for reading, a large fireplace for cheerful log fires on cold winter afternoons -- in the 1960s, there were lots of cold winter afternoons in Hanover, N.H. -- and tea for faculty and students every afternoon at 4:00. WCD spent some of the happiest afternoons and evenings of his young life here, reading his way progressively through this library, from Chaucer to Samuel Johnson.




Sanborn tea has been a Dartmouth tradition for nearly a century. It began in honor of Edwin David Sanborn, the Dartmouth English professor for whom Sanborn House is named. Professor Sanborn was remembered by generations of Dartmouth undergraduates for the Thursday afternoon teas he held for students in his family home near the College Green. When Sanborn House was built, a grateful alumnus left an endowment for the perennial custom of afternoon tea to be served in Sanborn Library at 4:00. Dartmouth students remember these teas with special fondness. Faculty would drift in from their offices, English majors who had been studying in the Library would put down their books, others would come in from elsewhere on campus, and there would be an hour or so of conversation about all sorts of topics in an informal atmosphere.

At Rutgers,it happens that a smaller-scale version of Sanborn teas spontaneously emerged in the mid-1990s at Toad Hall, where several generations of Rutgers undergraduates spent Thursday afternoons arguing about literature, politics, philosophy, music, movies, and the rest of the universe. Old Rutgers students dropped by and met undergraduates currently attending the university. Other students brought members of their family. Others brought younger friends who were still in high school and were considering coming to Rutgers. For over 20 years, Thursday Club was the pleasant survival of an older Rutgers in an otherwise melancholy period of institutional decline.