Alexander Hall, one of the University's most useful buildings, was
erected in 1892 as a convocation hall for commencement exercises
and other large gatherings. It was given by Harriet Crocker Alexander
in honor of her husband, Charles B. Alexander 1870, his father,
Henry M. Alexander 1840, and his grandfather, Archibald Alexander
hon. D.D. 1810, all of whom served as Princeton trustees.
During its early years
the building was used for the sesquicentennial celebration, for
Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as president, and for the Stafford
Little Lectures given by ex-President Grover Cleveland. For thirty
years freshmen were welcomed and seniors graduated in Alexander,
but by 1922 commencement exercises had outgrown the building and
thereafter were held in front of Nassau Hall. After Marquand Chapel
burned in 1920, Alexander was used for Sunday services until the
University Chapel was completed in 1929.
Designed by William A.
Potter in a Romanesque style, Alexander is rich in ornate detail.
Although it cannot be considered a complete success aesthetically,
the big, round, granite and brownstone building has always seemed
able to meet the changing needs of succeeding generations and to
accommodate many different activities -- student mass meetings,
political gatherings, football rallies, concerts, lectures, and
speeches. Among those who have spoken from its rostrum have been
Andrew Carnegie, William Jennings Bryan, Albert Einstein, Will Rogers,
Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Thomas, Adlai Stevenson, William Douglas,
C. P. Snow, Madame Nu, Eugene McCarthy, George Wallace, David E.
Lilienthal, and Art Buchwald.
This is adapted from
Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton
University Press (1978).