Recalling Storrs of the 1930s & 40s

Historical Article Series April 19, 2020 > Recalling Storrs of the 1930s & 40s

From the Mansfield Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 41, No. 4, July 2005

Excerpts of notes taken by James Whitaker based on his conversation with Albert I. Mann, October 25, 1983

Albert I. (Al) and Roberta (Bert) Mann came to Storrs in 1930 from Litchfield County where he had been in the extension service.  He became the extension dairy specialist at the Connecticut Agricultural College which boasted about 450 students at the time.  With a salary of under $2,500, they first looked in Willimantic for an affordable rent.  However, in the end, they were fortunate enough to obtain half of a double house on Gilbert Road for $45 per month.  Rents for single houses on campus ran from $75 to $85 per month.

The president’s home was located on Faculty Row (the road parallel to Mirror Lake), just south of Whitney Road.  Presidents living there during the thirties included Works, McCracken and Jorgensen.  Three other very large houses were located north of Whitney Road, the first of which was occupied by retired president Charles Beach until his death.

The first house on Whitney Road was occupied by Miss Edwina Whitney and her collection of several cats.  Other residents on Whitney included the A. J. Brundages, Henry Dorseys, Daniel Nobles and Dewey Steeles.

On the north side of Gilbert Road it was Marion Dakin and A. I. Mann, Albert Waugh and Leonard Riccio, Robert Johnson.  The south side included Stanley Owens, George Saul, Russell Decoursey, Nathan Whetten, Walter Landauer, Jerauld Manter, Howard Rollins and Roy Guyer.

The Jobey Lampsons lived on Faculty Row south of the president’s home.  Continuing south were houses occupied by Roy Jones, William Cheney, Albert Wilkenson, Walter Kulp, David Warner, Sherman Hollister and Ralph Gilman.  Doctor Gilman served the students as well as conducting a private practice.  This list of residents of Whitney, Gilbert and Faculty Row included a large proportion of the college staff at the time.

The area to the southwest of Gilbert Road was divided into garden plots and there was a great competition to have the first peas in the spring and other gardening firsts throughout the season.  There was considerable socializing and just as later, some liked an after dinner drink, other declined; some liked to play bridge and others didn’t.  Football in the fall and baseball in the spring were but a short walk away and everyone went.  Dances with live orchestras were held in the community house of the Storrs Congregational Church.  Bert Mann held dance classes and many Storrs children benefited from her instruction.

The Men’s Faculty Club was active in the 30s with regular monthly meetings.  Quarters for the club were located in the top floor of the Beach Tower, where a pool table and a ping pong table were available.  The Women’s Club of Storrs was also active with monthly meetings held in the community house.

Three faculty tennis courts located where the former Phil’s Store now stands were crowded every weekday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.  Marcel Kessel and Wendell Cook were the star faculty players.

Beebe’s Store
Beebe’s Store

The only store in Storrs during the thirties and forties was Beebe’s on the west side of 195 along the lake.  After Mr. Beebe, the store was operated by Mr. Gillette, the Elges, and finally by John Fitts.  A free delivery service was operated in all kinds of weather and groceries were sold “on the cuff”, a privilege that a number of people took advantage of and ran up large bills that some never paid.  Shopping for other than groceries required a trip to Willimantic.

About 1935 a rule was introduced that limited the stay in college housing to seven years.  The result was that many of the above mentioned families living on Faculty Row and Whitney and Gilbert Roads built homes in the Willowbrook area and later in Ledgecrest.

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