Geologic Aspects of Arts Quad Buildings Visible from the Fifth Floor of the Johnson Museum

Commentary: President Emeritus and Emeritus Professor of Geology, Dr. Frank H.T. Rhodes

Photos: University Photography, Cornell University

Bonus Video: Cornell Professor of Architecture Vince Mulcahy


Tjaden (Rand Hall) and Sibley are built from the Silurian Medina Sandstone from Western New York. The Silurian Period extended from 443–416 million years ago.  The roof slate on Tjaden comes from New York and Vermont and is of Ordovician age (488-443 million years ago).

Tjaden Hall

Silurian Medina Sandstone

Sibley Hall

Sibley Hall Stone

Lincoln Hall

Lincoln Hall Stone

Morrill and White Halls were the first classroom buildings constructed at Cornell, together with McGraw and the Ezra Cornell statue. Morrill is named for the legislator who sponsored the federal Land Grant University Act. Many state universities have a Morrill Hall. These buildings are constructed of Ithaca Sandstone, which was quarried from what is now the west of Libe Slope. The outline of this quarry can still be seen. The rock is of Devonian age (416-359 million years ago). The limestone around the windows of these buildings was quarried about 25 miles north of the Cornell campus near what is now Wells College. It is also of Devonian age and has fossil pelecypods, brachiopods and corals preserved in it.

Morrill Hall

McGraw Hall

White Hall

Ithaca Sandstone

Goldwin Smith is constructed of Berea Sandstone, quarried from Northern Ohio. It is of Mississippian age. The Mississippian Period extended from 359-318 million years ago.

Goldwin Smith Hall

Berea Sandstone

Many of these buildings also have brick as part of their structure and the interiors and parts of the exteriors also have a few notable stones from other areas. The exteriors of White and Morrill, for example, have  Coeymans Limestone from New York as the foundation for the exterior stair rails. The Limestone is of Devonian age (416-359 million years ago).

Bonus Video:

The Cornell Arts Quad: Accident or Design? (May 26, 2010) Cornell professor of architecture Vince Mulcahy describes the history of Cornell's Arts Quad--from the first "Stone Row" building to the Johnson Museum.