University Quad

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.

Images

1908

1908

A 1908 view looking north with the Chemistry Building, historic Gymnasium, and School of Mines. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Cane rush, 1910

Cane rush, 1910

1910 Cane Rush participants on the quad. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

1911

1911

A 1911 view of the Quad, School of Mines and historic Gymnasium. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

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. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Looking south

Looking south

The quad, looking south circa 1911. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Shoveling snow

Shoveling snow

A path across Quad through deep snow with the University President's House in the distance, ca.1911. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Cane Rush, 1914

Cane Rush, 1914

The audience for Cane Rush gathering on the Quad in 1914. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney on the Quadrangle during the filming of "Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble" in 1944. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Festival, 1970

Festival, 1970

Arts Festival on the Quadrangle April 20, 1970. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Tricycle race, 1979

Tricycle race, 1979

A Mackay Days tricycle race on the Quad in 1979. Photo by John Newman. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Commencement on the Quad, 2004

Commencement on the Quad, 2004

Overview from Morrill Hall balcony, spring 2004 commencement. Image courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Video

Buildings no longer with us

View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Amanda Buell and Reno Historical Team, “University Quad,” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/75.
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