In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the physical layout of campus became an issue. As can been seen in the photo above and on the map below, the northern section of Pulteney Street from the W. F. Humphrey Press to Hamilton Street was a residential area at the heart of campus.
Landscape architects and site planners advised the Colleges that, "Near the center of campus, just opposite Warren Hunting Smith Library, is the Humphrey Press Building, a key land parcel which should be acquired by the Colleges so as to complete a coherent land pattern."
Pulteney and Hamilton
Another aspect of the problem was that there was no official entrance to campus. In 1975, the Herald wrote, "We are one of the few colleges which lack an official entrance. People driving up to the school often don't know whether to enter on Pulteney, South Main, or St. Clair St." The school engineer was quoted as saying, "We don't have one specific entrance, and Pulteney Street has been suggested providing we can find alternate means for traffic that would be agreeable to the city."
However, the traffic on Pulteney Street was not the only issue. Site planners and architects Zion & Breen wrote in the winter of 1980, "The present entrance to the campus from Hamilton Street is highly inappropriate- a small side street lined with a motley mixture of residential and commercial structures. Especially unattractive is the small restaraunt-bar fronted by a weedy parking lot. A derelict residence on the opposite corner has been recently demolished." They recommended creating new entrances in the areas marked in red on the above map.
On the corner was The Twin Oaks, a restaurant-bar that had been in business since the late 1940s.
The Oaks, as it was commonly referred to, was very popular with students as the legal drinking age was 18 at the time. This led to tension between the Colleges and the residents of Pulteney Street, as students passed their homes on the way back to campus.
These tensions came to a head in the fall of 1980, as the residents of Pulteney Street attempted to sue the Colleges over the behavior of some students.
They complained of yelling, fighting, vandalism, and theft as students returned from The Oaks late at night. One resident claimed that she was required to call the police up to four times a night each weekend.
The solution to these problems came in the summer of 1981 when the Colleges purchased all of the homes on Pulteney Street, as wells as the Humphrey Press. This consolidated the campus, by making Pulteney Street between Hamilton and St. Clair, the figurative heart of campus, entirely college property. Many of the homes were relocated through a non-profit which provided homes to low-income families or demolished.
The End of The Oaks
The Oaks, now owned by the Colleges, was run by the previous owner for a few more years. However, the raising of the legal drinking age to 21 in 1985 eliminated more than half of The Oaks business, and it closed in 1986.
The student and alumni community mourned the loss, but the name survives in the Oaks Tent at reunion each summer.
In 1984, the William F. Scandling Center was built. Incorporating the main entrance and offices of the Humphrey Press building, it served as a much-needed student union on campus. It housed dining services for students and faculty, the post office, college radio stations, and other assorted offices.