Professor Scully's letter of October 7, 1996
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 21:36:29 -0400

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The following is the full text of the letter (dated October 7, 1996) that
Yale Professor Vincent Scully sent to Yale President Richard Levin:
You are quoted in the News, perhaps inaccurately, as saying, "We've
demolished more buildings than we have standing now."

Whatever the case, the statement is true. Yale has always had a narrowly
utilitarian and careless attitude toward its buildings, starting with the
old Brick Row. That attitude is nothing to be proud of. Sometimes it leads
Yale to truly sordid behavior, like its calculated demolition by neglect of
the Davies House. When I walk around the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle now I
see the same process at work, and I get the very strong feeling that your
administration, whatever its public statements may be, has in fact marked
those magnificent buildings for destruction.

The proposed relocation of the Divinity School seems an idiotic idea on the
face of it, but I am not competent to speak with authority on that subject.
It is a different story with the buildings. They form one of the most
beautiful groups at Yale, shaping an environment of sweetness, dignity, and
peace: a place entirely appropriate for the great and humane school they
house. They are not a poor copy of Jefferson's University of Virginia, as
the highly trained architectural critics in the upper echelons of your
administration seem fond of saying. They are something totally different,
with an individuality and integrity of their own, and, most of all, they are
here, intimately adjusted to their splendid site. If Yale showed any sign at
all of knowing where its greatness lies it would cherish them and use them
with pride.

It pains me to see this greatest of all institutions of teaching and
learning, which I have loved all my life, behaving like the mean little
Yankee business enterprise it all too often pretends to be.

It is beneath Yale to contemplate demolishing the Divinity School. I can't
believe that the Yale community in New Haven and throughout the world
doesn't think so too.

Sincerely yours,

Vincent Scully
Sterling Professor Emeritus of the History of Art
cc: Yale Daily News
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