Filed Under Education

University Quad

Modeled after Thomas Jefferson's plan at the University of Virginia

The University of Nevada’s historic quad was not an original component of the campus, but has long been recognized as its most picturesque. The expansive space, measuring roughly 200 x 600 feet, was created in conjunction with the construction of the Mackay School of Mines building in 1908. University President J.E. Stubbs recommended that the new quadrangle created between the rear of Morrill Hall on the south and the new Mines building to the north should be “fitted up with trees and a lawn.”

Clarence Mackay donated the funds and hired the same architectural firm that had designed and overseen construction of the Mines building—the prominent New York firm of McKim, Mead, and White—to design appropriate landscaping for the quad, including the giant elm trees that still line its edges. A master plan submitted that same year specified that any new buildings at the university were to be constructed facing the quadrangle, rather than toward the town of Reno.

The quad became a focal point of Clarence Mackay's long-term plans for the University of Nevada, which he hoped to model after Stanford White's revival of Thomas Jefferson's plan at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. The plan called for the arrangement of classically designed buildings around an open quadrangle, an idea with roots at least as old as medieval British college cloisters. The tradition carried into the 17th century with colleges both in England and in the United States having one or more buildings with a quadrangular courtyard behind or connected to the main building.

When the University was in its infancy, it was strictly forbidden for underclassmen to ever set foot on the quad; over the years, this tradition has loosened somewhat to allow the feet of all students (as well as a few dogs chasing after wayward frisbees) to touch the grassy space, which members of Buildings & Grounds affectionately refer to as “Mother Quad.”

Originally the heart of campus, the University of Nevada, Reno quad has become the traditional setting for Commencement activities, and provides a pleasant place for picnics, concerts, and quiet reflection. U.S. Presidents and other luminaries have addressed the student body and Reno residents there as well. In 1987, the university quadrangle was listed as part of the University of Nevada, Reno Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.

Video

Cane Rush A compilation of historical images of Cane Rush from the University Archives. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Amanda Buell
Buildings no longer with us A compilation of images of buildings once on the University of Nevada, Reno campus that are no longer standing. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Amanda Buell

Images

Cane Rush
Cane Rush The audience for Cane Rush gathering on the Quad in 1914. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1914
Historic path
Historic path A 1908 view looking north with the Chemistry Building, historic Gymnasium, and School of Mines. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1908
Cane rush participants
Cane rush participants 1910 Cane Rush participants on the quad. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1910
Quad view
Quad view A 1911 view of the Quad, School of Mines and historic Gymnasium. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1911
Cadet Corps band
Cadet Corps band The Cadet Corps band on the quad in front of the President's House and the Agricultural Experiment Station in 1911. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1911
Looking south
Looking south The quad, looking south circa 1911. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1911
Shoveling snow
Shoveling snow A path across Quad through deep snow with the University President's House in the distance, ca.1911. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca.1911
The Quad ca. 1920
The Quad ca. 1920 Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: A view of the Quad around 1920 looks south past the statue of John W. Mackay toward Morrill Hall (right). Date: ca. 1920
Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney Mickey Rooney on the Quadrangle during the filming of "Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble" in 1944. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1944
Arts Festival, 1970
Arts Festival, 1970 Arts Festival on the Quadrangle April 20, 1970. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1970
Tricycle race, 1979
Tricycle race, 1979 A Mackay Days tricycle race on the Quad in 1979. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: John Newman Date: 1979
Commencement on the Quad, 2004
Commencement on the Quad, 2004 Overview from Morrill Hall balcony, spring 2004 commencement. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 2004

Location

Metadata

Amanda Buell and Reno Historical Team, “University Quad,” Reno Historical, accessed July 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/75.