Healy Hall in Brick? … Nevermind

Is this right? We need your help. We’re doing a little pre-posting for the next week and came across this fascinating photo. It appears to be Healy Hall at Georgetown, but it looks like it’s completely in brick. Is that right? This was taken on September 7th, 1940, exactly 3 months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Healy Hall in 1940
Healy Hall in 1940

Source: Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection

UPDATE: Nevermind … I’ve only been over behind Healy Hall a couple times, and it’s been a while. Luckily, folks on Twitter reminded me that the other side has brick. Crisis averted. Here’s the Flickr evidence that calmed me down. BTW, there are really not a lot of photos of Healy Hall from the back.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • ZZinDC

    If this was Sept 7, 1940, that would be a year and three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941.

  • Vincent A. Salgado

    I recall taking a tour of the campus as an incoming freshman. The guide explained that the school didn’t have the money to construct Healy Hall completely in stone. Hence, the brick. Here’s a trivia question: What is the name the oldest building on the GU campus?

  • Geoffrey Greene

    This is the back of Healy Hall, facing Dalgren Chapel (which you can see in the foreground). Currently, Healy is sans ivy. Healy did leave the University deeply in debt, as Vincent mentioned, so construction on the north-most wing of it, housing beautiful Gaston Hall (which hosts high-profile speakers), wasn’t finished until a generation later, in 1909.

  • Publius Washingtoniensis

    The oldest building at Georgetown was the original “Old South,” built in 1789, which was demolished in 1905 and replaced by Ryan Hall. The oldest surviving building is Old North, built in 1795. George Washington addressed the small student body, which included two grand nephews, from the porch. In addition to the cost element, it has been represented to me that brick was chosen to harmonize with the facades of the existing Federal style buildings in the Quadrangle. It is, however, worth noting that both the White-Gravenor Building and Copley Hall, built in the 1920s and 30s, also have stone fronts but are brick on the back side. It is also worth noting that the architects of the Healy Building, Smithmeyer and Pelz, also designed the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. They submitted several studies for the Library in different styles, from Medieval to Beaux-Arts Classical revival. Congress chose the latter. The Jefferson was built right on the cusp of the transition of public taste from Victorian, q.v., the Old Post Office, to Beaux Arts, which reigned from the time of the Jefferson Building for 60+ years.

  • Publius Washingtoniensis

    The use of brick on the Healy Building’s west front (Quadrangle side) was both an economy measure and an attempt to harmonize to some extent with the existing brick facades of the older Federal period college buildings. Note that Dahlgren Chapel, built in 1892, is also of brick rather than stone. The economy measure was repeated in Copley Hall and the White-Gravenor Building: their fronts are stone, the backs are brick.