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This webpage reproduces an article in
Naval Institute Proceedings
Vol. 61 No. 10 (Oct. 1935), pp1442‑1467

The text is in the public domain,
the 1935 copyright not having been renewed in 1962 or 1963.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p1443  Description of the United States Naval Academy​a1

By Charles Lee Lewis

Web edition: This brief article is illustrated with 40 photographs. To make the page fast to load, I've inserted only thumbnails; clicking on them will open the photos full-size in another window.

Proceeding along Maryland Avenue, one enters the grounds, or "Yard," of the Naval Academy through the Main Gate, presented in 1932 by the Class of 1907.

[image ALT: An elegant grillwork gate across a two-lane street, opening from identical stone archways on either side, which are pedestrian gates. The foreground is pavement; behind the gates, a park-like space, with many trees, seasonally bare of leaves, in which can be dimly made out a few large buildings. It is the Main Gate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Main Gate

Taken from just outside the Yard down Maryland Avenue to Dewey Basin. The corner of Sampson Hall appears behind the watchman. Through this gate all prospective midshipmen enter. From here most of them get their first view of the Yard.

Turning to the right at Blake Road, the visitor will notice first one of the large guns captured from the Spanish cruiser Viscaya in the Battle of Santiago. Beyond it is the Administration Building, where are located the offices of the Superintendent of the Naval Academy.
 (p1444)  
[image ALT: A more or less cubical house: ground floor, one story above it and mansard roof: the front is marked by a central archway extending to the roof where it is pedimented; the archway is interrupted by an elaborate iron grillwork balcony at the second floor. On either side, each floor is lit by a large rectangular window. The right side of the building is lit by five tall but narrow, slit-like windows on each floor. It is the Administration Building at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Administration Building

In addition to the offices of the Superintendent and his staff, the Academic Board, all power­ful regarding whether or not a midshipman is satisfactory in his studies, has a room set aside for its meetings. In this building the entering midshipmen have their first contact with the Navy.

Still farther on is the Chapel. The guns flanking the approach were captured by the Navy during the War with Mexico. This imposing structure, built in the form of a Greek cross, with a lofty dome over 200 feet high, was finished in 1908 at a cost of about $400,000.

[image ALT: An imposing but elegant domed building in a neoclassical style. The ground floor, not fully seen because obscured by trees, shows a door flanked by two tall columns, the whole overhung by an arched pediment. The cupola of the dome above it rises from a story-high course of some twenty narrow arched windows, and atop the dome sits a small hexagonal lantern, with its own miniature cupola. It is the Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Chapel

Up these walks the Regiment, except those electing to go to churches of their own faith in Annapolis, march each Sunday. The Herndon Monument may be seen on the right edge of the picture.

Particularly noteworthy are the handsome bronze doors, the gift of Colonel Robert M. Thompson in memory of the Class of 1868, of which he was a member.

[image ALT: A monumental two-leaf bronze door, divided into carved panels with human figures, wreaths and other ornaments (not clear because the photograph is of less than optimal quality). The door frame is in a neoclassical style and noticeable for a tall thin version of the Roman fasces on either side. It is the main door of the Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Doors of the Chapel

The bronze doors of the U. S. Naval Academy Chapel, presented by Colonel Robert M. Thompson, in memory of the Class of 1868, U. S. Naval Academy.

Inside are several very beautiful stained-glass windows. Three of these windows stand as memorials to Porter, Farragut, and Sampson, respectively, while two others flanking the altar symbolize the mission of the Chapel. One, a memorial to Lieutenant Commander Theodorus B. Mason, U. S. Navy, portrays Sir Galahad holding before him his sheathed sword. The other shows a newly commissioned ensign being shown by Christ the beacon he must follow as an officer.

[image ALT: A photograph of the interior of a church, looking toward the altar. Wooden pews on either side of the usual central aisle lead to an ill-defined low wooden choir enclosure. The central altar is a low rectangular table surmounted by a metal cross. The focus of the photograph, however, is the window above the altar, easily 8 meters tall, which seems to depict an outdoor scene, although the best discernible panes are the upper ornaments of an architectural kind. The window is flanked by stone columns, part of a spare stone surface of slightly recessed panels and moldings, with one small round window high up on either side. Over the sides of the choir on angled flagpoles, four flags: to our right, the Epistle side, two American flags; across from them on the Gospel side, two other flags, that I can't identify, mostly because the photo does not allow identification. It is a view of the interior of the Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Altar of the Chapel

The stained glass window directly behind the altar is dedicated to Admiral David Dixon Porter. The choir, all midshipmen, sit inside the chancel rail. Visitors are always welcome and are seated on either side of the center aisle. The midshipmen are seated as a body according to the regimental organization.

In the Crypt of the Chapel in a sarcophagus of black and white marble lie the remains of John Paul Jones. He died in Paris, and for many years the place of his burial was completely lost sight of. In 1905, however, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Horace Porter, then American Ambassador to France, found the body  p1445 in an old forgotten cemetery.​b After it had been unquestionably identified as that of the American naval hero, it was conveyed to the United States and here reinterred with the ceremony and pomp appropriate to a great man whose fame has become world wide. In the Crypt also is Jones' service sword and his bust, the work of the contemporary sculptor, Houdon.​c
 (p1446)  
[image ALT: A small more or less circular room, intimated more than seen, in the center of which rises a sculpture about 2 meters tall, from a marble roundel on the floor. The sculpture itself, in this photograph, has the appearance of a coral-encrusted reef from which swim two large fish or dolphins. In the floor toward the viewer, a five-line inscription of which the the two lines in largest characters and thus the only ones fully readable, are 'John Paul Jones • United States Navy'. It is the crypt of the Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, with the sarcophagus of John Paul Jones.]

The Crypt of the Chapel​d

Here lie the remains of John Paul Jones. To the graduate and midshipman, John Paul Jones is not only a great fighter; his views as expressed in his letter to Congress are taken as the ideal toward which every naval officer strives. "It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor."

In front of the Chapel as one looks towards the Severn River, two monuments are in view. The nearest is that in memory of Commander William Lewis Herndon, naval officer, explorer, and merchant skipper, who lost his life when the mail steamer Central America foundered off Cape Hatteras. Herndon was the brother-in‑law of Matthew Fontaine Maury and the father-in‑law of President Chester A. Arthur.​e

[image ALT: An unadorned stone obelisk, maybe 5 or 6 meters tall, not square in cross-section but flatter on two sides, quite narrow on the other two; a single word in bronze lettering affixed on the wide side facing the viewer, about a third of the way up: 'Herndon'. It is the Herndon Monument at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Herndon Monument

A constant reminder to all midshipmen that they are entering a service where self must be subordinated to duty.

In the distance on Stribling Walk, down which the midshipmen march so often to and fro to recitations, is the Mexican Monument, erected in honor of the naval officers who gave their lives in the War with Mexico, the year following the founding of the Naval Academy.

[image ALT: Against a backdrop of tall deciduous trees, a relatively small stone monument, about six meters tall, consisting of an obelisk about half that height rising from a cubical base with four smaller obelisks at the corners. In the center of the side facing the viewer, the base bears a fouled metal anchor. Four cannons point outwards diagonally from the four corners of the monument. It is the Mexican Monument at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Mexican Monument

Located at the junction of Chapel and Stribling Walks. This view is taken from Stribling Walk toward the Academic Group. The Library appears in the left edge of the picture. This monument stands in memory of four midshipmen who sacrificed their lives in the Mexican War: Hynson, Clemson, Pillsbury, and Shubrick.

To the right of the band stand is the "Japanese Bell," presented to Commodore M. C. Perry when he landed on the Lew Chew Islands during his famous expedition to Japan. The midshipmen ring this bell only in celebration of a football victory over their rivals at West Point.​f

[image ALT: A ten-sided kiosk supported by thin columns and covered by a flattened dome. It is the bandstand at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Band Stand

The Naval Academy Band plays here each morning and afternoon during the spring and fall.


[image ALT: A four-sided structure about 4 meters tall, resembling the legs of a chair, in a park setting. From the center — what would be the seat of the chair — hangs a more or less cylindrical metal bell. It is the Japanese Bell at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Japanese Bell

This bell has an especial niche in the heart of every midshipman at the Naval Academy. Custom and tradition require that this bell be rung in a very special manner. The ringing of this bell even in the excitement of a victory is no haphazard affair.

Next to the Chapel is the Superintendent's House.
 (p1448)  
[image ALT: A large house in a rather server rectangular style, ground floor and an upper story, with something like a low mansard roof. Striped awnings project from either side, over porches on the ground floor as well as one from an upper floor balcony on the left side. We approach it by a wide paved walk and five wide steps. It is the Superintendent's Quarters at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Superintendent's Quarters

Many distinguished persons, American and foreign, have been entertained here. The Superintendent's Quarters and the Administration Building flank the Chapel. The three harmonize and present a very pleasing group.

Turning to the right into Buchanan Road near another prize of the Spanish War taken from the cruiser Maria Teresa, one sees on the right a long line of white brick residences, the quarters of the Commandant of Midshipmen and the Heads of the Academic Departments. The massive building with the great arched entrance, to the left, is Dahlgren Hall, named in honor of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, one of the pioneers in the development of the large-caliber naval gun. The guns and torpedoes flanking the approach are for the most part prizes of the War with Spain. The two large guns on either side of the entrance are Dahlgren rifles, named after the inventor. This Hall houses the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery and is the Armory of the Naval Academy. Among the laboratory features of the building, perhaps the most significant is the huge range finder and the fire-control equipment, similar to that on modern battleships which makes possible the hitting with astounding accuracy of a target often invisible to the man at the gun and many miles distant from the observer. Another practical feature of Dahlgren Hall is the long string of racks several blocks in length containing 2,000 rifles. Here the whole regiment of midshipmen can be  p1447 mustered preparatory to an infantry drill or dress parade. Both on the ground floor and in the galleries are cases containing interesting specimens of ordnance and ammunition too numerous to mention, and many photographs, bas‑reliefs, and other material relating to the naval history of our country. Because of its great floor space, Dahlgren Hall is sometimes used for purposes quite different from its warlike uses. Here annually the many thousands of visitors, relatives, and friends of the midshipmen meet for the "Farewell Ball" and graduation exercises.

[image ALT: A very solid-looking square building of rusticated stone masonry with a central arch taking up fully half the façade and extending to the stringcourse supporting the roof. The arch is glassed-in and is essentially a large window. In front of the building are several Model-T cars. It is a partial view of Dahlgren Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Dahlgren Hall

This building, because of the lack of interior subdivision and the vividness of the scenes when used for hops, probably impresses visitors more than any other. The colonnade connecting Dahlgren and Bancroft Halls appears on the left.​g

At the seaward entrance to Dahlgren Hall can be seen Thompson Stadium, used for football games and track meets.

[image ALT: A barren plot of land behind a low metal rail. In the background, five or six trees, three of them tall and spindly, the others lower and bushier. In the foreground, a boulder with a bronze plaque affixed to it. On the right, receding into the background, a large crowd sits on at least twenty ranks of bleachers. It is a partial view of Thompson Stadium at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Thompson Stadium

Showing is a portion of the field and the west stand as viewed from the end of Porter Road. The plaque on the stone in the foreground is shown below.


[image ALT: A bronze plaque, the text of which is given in the caption to this image. It is the Thompson Memorial Plaque at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Plaque

Thompson Stadium
dedicated May 30, 1931
to honor the memory of
Robert Means Thompson
Class of 1868, U. S. N. A.

His interest, encouragement and
assistance were an inspiration
to Naval Academy athletics and
to the spirit of his Alma Mater

Colonel Robert M. Thompson left the naval service soon after graduation. Throughout his life, however, he was vitally interested in the Naval Academy and his generosity and unfailing helpfulness endeared him to all midshipmen.

Adjoining the Armory by a peristyle is the enormous midshipmen's dormitory, Bancroft Hall, named after the founder of the Naval Academy, Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft.
 (p1450)  
[image ALT: A winter scene: snow, a few bare trees, a few low conifers; in the background, a very large building: though five stories tall, it appears very low because it is about 300 meters wide. It is Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Bancroft Hall

This view was taken from Sampson Hall and shows the north facade. At the left can be seen the Mexican Monument.

One has a good view of  p1449 the north façade of this great building from near the Tecumseh Monument, which stands at the head of Stribling Walk. This monument, particularly cherished by the midshipmen, is the bronze replica of the original figurehead of the USS Delaware, which was scuttled at the Norfolk Navy Yard during the Civil War and, after being salvaged from the wreck after the war, was sent to the Naval Academy. After it had been found that the old wooden Indian, having been exposed to wind and weather for half a century, had become a mere rotted shell of its former self, the bronze replica was made and was presented in 1930 to the Academy by the Class of 1891. The midshipmen call the figurehead "Tecumseh," though the real name of the chief of the Delawares was Tamanend.​h The custom has grown up among the midshipmen of saluting "Tecumseh," en route to recitations and examinations, to insure a passing mark of 2.5, and he is now generally referred to by them as "The God of 2.5."​i Another custom of the midshipmen is to offer to their "god," on the way to great football games, their prayers and pennies in order to secure victory over their foes in athletics.

[image ALT: A carved bronze figurehead on a tall stone pedestal, representing a Native American warrior chief with a quiver of arrows over his right shoulder. It is 'Tecumseh' at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Tecumseh

The God of 2.5. Midshipmen are marked on a scale of 0 to 4.0, with 2.5 the minimum for passing. Tecumseh is the patron saint of those near the border and his favor is earnestly sought. Presented to the Naval Academy by the Class of 1891. The "wooden brains" and the "heart" of the ancient wooden Indian are preserved within the bronze replica.

The  p1451 bronze guns on either side of the entrance to Bancroft Hall were captured by the Navy at Vera Cruz and in California during the Mexican War. Inside the great doors, one finds oneself in the imposing rotunda, from which extend the long rows of corridors.

[image ALT: A monumental hall, several stories high, marked in this photograph by a series of columns and pilasters along the left and a grand staircase leading up one story thru a two-story-tall door surmounted by a broken arched pediment to a brightly lit space. A large squinch on the left is an intimation of a dome or vaulted ceiling above, in the part not seen in the photograph. It is the Rotunda of Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Rotunda, Bancroft Hall

Taken from the northern entrance to Bancroft Hall. These steps lead to Memorial Hall. On either side of these steps are other steps leading to Recreation ("Smoke") Hall. The Rotunda is the center of Bancroft Hall and of the life in Bancroft Hall.

There are three miles of these corridors in the Hall, which covers (in its five floors) about 40 acres. During the World War about 2,500 midshipmen were here accommodated. In the great Mess Hall on the ground floor there is room enough for all the midshipmen to dine together.
 (p1452)  
[image ALT: A large festively decorated and brilliantly lit room divided into three aisles by two rows of columns. The center aisle, which recedes into the background before us, is mostly clear space but the center of it is occupied here and there by tables. The side aisles, not fully seen in the photo, are a solid expanse of close-set tables. It is the Mess Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Mess Hall

This view was taken while the decorations for Christmas were up. The center table is for the staff. The metal-topped tables are serving tables. The midshipmen sit 22 to a table, the tables being arranged at right angles to the center aisle and extending to the side windows on both sides of the aisle. The sides of the mess hall consist practically altogether of windows.

From the rotunda a wide stone stairway leads to Memorial Hall, which is reserved for memorial windows, tablets, portraits, and busts of officers and enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps who gain official recognition under one or more of the following conditions:

(a) Died in the gallant performance of duty in action.

(b) Died in performing or in the act of having performed an act of exceptional bravery at any time or place, thereby maintaining cherished naval tradition.

(c) Rendering important and distinguished service in time of war for which special recognition was accorded by the Navy Department or higher authority.

(d) Especially distinguished in performing attainments to the extent of having acquired public recognition.


[image ALT: A view of one side of a very large room, three or four stories tall. The central space of the room is entirely empty. The walls, provided with more or less regularly spaced sconces, are hung with a dozen or more framed portraits. We are looking at an alcove in the background, separated from the main room by a pair of columns, the entablature of which, an extension of a stringcourse around the rest of the room, is surmounted by a monumental lunette on which, either in tiles or paint — hard to tell from this photograph — is depicted an 18c battle between two ships. The lunette is framed by an elliptical arch that must rise beyond the frame of the photograph to a dome or vaulted ceiling. It is Memorial Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Memorial Hall​j1

This is a view of the eastern end of the Naval Academy's and Navy's Hall of Fame. The history of the Navy and its glorious achievements may be traced by the pictures and tablets hung in Memorial Hall. In the niche is a painting showing the Constitution-Java engagement, made by the famous marine artist, Mr. Charles R. Patterson. This painting was presented to the Naval Academy by Edward J. Berwind, class of 1869.

 p1453  It is here that many of the exhibits commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of the Naval Academy are to be found. The permanent memorials consist of bronze tablets, swords, and cups, an interesting collection of Washingtonia, paintings of naval battles, and many busts and portraits of famous high-ranking officers. Among the most valuable portraits are those of Commodore Isaac Chauncey by Gilbert Stuart, of Commodore Jacob Jones by Sully, of Commodore William Bainbridge and Commodore Stephen Decatur both by John W. Jarvis, and of John Paul Jones by Cecilia Beaux. But the most precious memorial in the Hall is on the seaward wall; it is the battle flag of the U. S. ship Lawrence, bearing the inspiring words of the dying Lawrence, "Don't give up the ship." This famous flag was flown  p1455 on Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's flagship in his victorious engagement with the British on Lake Erie.​j2

The windows of Memorial Hall frame beautiful views of Farragut Field with the harbor and the Chesapeake Bay in the background. Upon stepping out on the balcony, one can see also below in the foreground the formal garden, "Smoke Park," for the exclusive use of midshipmen during their leisure hours, and enjoy as well a more extensive view of the grounds facing the sea.

[image ALT: A very partial view of a English-style but somewhat formal garden of shrubs and trees, with a small naval gun in the foreground. A wide alley leads to an imposing and fairly ornate four-story stone building in the left background. It is a view of Wilson Park at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Wilson "Smoke" Park

Located in the U formed by the four wings of Bancroft Hall, this park is reserved for the use of midshipmen. The entrance under the terrace in the center leads to the Mess Hall.

Returning to the Tecumseh Monument and thence proceeding down the curving walk towards the Severn, one will see to the left the boat sheds housing the numerous rowing cutters, and to the right a colonnade connecting Bancroft Hall to Macdonough Hall. This building was named in honor of Commodore Thomas Macdonough who won the Battle of Lake Champlain in the War of 1812. Trophies of this victory, two 24‑pounders taken from the captured enemy flagship, Confiance, flank the entrance to the building. One of these guns has a dent in the muzzle, made at the time it was struck by a cannon ball which dismounted the gun and incidentally killed the British commanding officer, Downie. Macdonough Hall houses the Athletic Department and has for its equipment a very complete gymnasium and a swimming pool. Just inside the entrance is an extremely interesting collection of athletic trophies. In the gymnasium above the balcony on the south wall is a very striking 50‑foot model of the Antietam under full sail.
 (p1454)  
[image ALT: A very solid-looking large rectangular building of rusticated stone masonry. The façade is about four stories tall with a central arch taking up fully half of it and extending to the stringcourse supporting the roof. The arch is glassed-in and is essentially a large window. This three-quarters view shows that he façade is taller than the rest of the building, however: in which fifteen arched windows two stories tall can be seen stretching down the side of the building. To our right, in front of the building, is a row of six parked cars of types built in the 1930s. It is a view of Macdonough Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Macdonough Hall

This hall contains the gymnasium, instruction swimming pool, and offices of the Department of Physical Training and Navy Athletic Association.

Connected with Macdonough Hall is new Natatorium, which was dedicated on April 10‑12, 1914. It is said to be the largest indoor pool in the United States, being 150 feet long and 60 feet wide with a capacity of 640,000 gallons. The bronze figure of Cupid on the south wall once adorned the swimming pool on the Hamburg-American liner Vaterland. After our entry into the World War, the vessel was seized and became the U. S. S. Leviathan. During her metamorphosis into a troop ship, the statue was sent to the Naval Academy as a trophy.

[image ALT: A large indoors swimming pool; the ceiling above it is supported by a framework of steel struts. It is the Natatorium at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Natatorium

The water used is treated with ultra-violet rays. The stands have accommodations for 1,200 spectators. All midshipmen must qualify as first-class swimmers before graduating. Those who fail to qualify during plebe summer are put on the "sub squad" and given special instruction until they qualify.

Between the Gymnasium and the Severn is Luce Hall, which derives its name from Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, a member of the second class to graduate from the Naval Academy, who became a leading authority on the education of naval personnel, founded the War College, and wrote on such diverse subjects as seamanship and chanteys. The building houses the three Departments of Seamanship and Navigation, Languages, and Economics and Government. The corridor on the ground floor has on its walls an interesting collection of brass plates which give brief biographical sketches of naval officers after whom destroyers have been named. In the corridor of the second floor as well as on the stairs and in the Rigging Loft are many interesting ship models, figureheads, and ships' bells, all of historical significance.

[image ALT: A rather small four-story building, with ivy grown up the lower two stories. The center is occupied by a mass of small windows. It is Luce Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Luce Hall

On the upper floor of this building is found the rigging loft, where the rudiments of signaling, knot tying, splicing, and other phases of practical seamanship are taught. During the academic year many first-class hops and the all‑important, second-class Ring Dance are held in the rigging loft.

 p1456  From the windows of the Rigging Loft one may enjoy extensive views of the Severn River and the Bay. In the foreground, of particular interest is Santee Basin, named for the old frigate Santee, which was for many years the station ship at the Academy. Here a collection of various craft are to be seen, including sub‑chasers, launches, and sometimes a submarine or destroyer. The two large housed‑in vessels are the Cumberland, named after the old frigate sunk by the Merrimac at Hampton Roads, and the Reina Mercedes, captured at Santiago after the Battle of Santiago on July 3, 1898. Near the Reina Mercedes wharf is the mast of the battleship Maine, which was destroyed in Havana Harbor, February 15, 1898.

[image ALT: Two steel ships, each with a single low funnel, docked on either side of a small pier. The ship on the left has two masts, the one on the right has three. No sails are in evidence, not even furled. In the foreground, a bollard with a loosely coiled rope draped over it. It is a view of the Reina Mercedes, left, and the Cumberland, right, at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Reina Mercedes and Cumberland

The Reina Mercedes, on the left, is the station ship of the Naval Academy. She serves as quarters for enlisted men and for those midshipmen who have committed serious breaches of conduct. The Cumberland provides additional quarters for enlisted personnel attached to the Naval Academy. One of the standard jokes at the Naval Academy is that the Reina is the fastest ship in the Navy, having been "fast" to her dock for 20 years.


[image ALT: The mast of a steel ship. It is the mast of the U. S. S. Maine at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Maine's mast

This remnant of the foremast of the Maine is now used to display storm warnings. At its base is the saluting gun which six nights a week announces the end of study hour.

Opposite Luce Hall to the north lies Dewey Basin, named of course in honor of Admiral George Dewey. The two guns, one on each pier head, were taken from the German cruiser Cormoran, sunk by her own crew at Guam when her surrender was demanded on April 6, 1917, the day war was declared against Germany by the United States.
 (p1458)  
[image ALT: An expanse of water a few hundred meters wide, with a dozen or so small sailing boats. In the background, several large buildings; and in the far left background, two steel ships. It is Dewey Basin at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Dewey Basin

The buildings in the center from left to right are Luce Hall, Macdonough Hall, and Bancroft Hall. The Reina Mercedes and Cumberland may be seen on the extreme left. The sail boats have just got under way for drill. Maneuvering in formation is a very beautiful thing to watch and is a wonder­ful test of a midshipman's ability to handle a boat.

Just inside the nearer pier lies the old yacht America, which was presented to the Naval Academy on October 1, 1921, by a group of American yachtsmen. The America on August 22, 1851, won at Cowes, England, the International Race and thus brought to this country the trophy ever since known as the America's Cup. After her racing days were over, the America served as yacht, merchantman, man-of‑war in the Confederate Navy, blockader in the Northern Navy, and Naval Academy training ship, after which she again returned to private ownership until she at last found a berth at the Academy.​k

[image ALT: On a small expanse of water framed in the background by a low line of trees and in the foreground by a pair of thin posts with ropes attached, a low-keeled two-masted sailing ship, with no evidence of its sails, even furled. Along the right side of the water, a dozen or more small boats are docked at covered boathouses. It is a view of the yacht America at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The America

This famous yacht crossed the Atlantic and brought back the International Cup. Even to‑day racing experts are enthusiastic about her lines.

As one proceeds northward along the edge of Dewey Basin, one will see on the  p1457 right the long line of half-raters and other small sailing craft used by the midshipmen in their seamanship drills and for recreation; on the left are the tennis courts.

[image ALT: An enclosure containing ten tennis courts, fronting on a small expanse of water in the background; in the far background, a low line of trees. It is a view of the tennis courts at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Tennis courts

These courts are between Dewey Basin and Stribling Walk and extend from the Academic group to Bancroft Hall. During recreation hours these courts are in constant use. In the upper right portion of the picture may be seen the towers of the High Power Radio Station, the Engineering Experiment Station on the other side of the Severn, and the planes used in preliminary flight training anchored in the Severn.

At the north end of the Dewey Basin is the Power Plant.
 (p1460)  
[image ALT: A nondescript two-story building, comprising two parts each with a high pitched roof. From the larger part, in the background, rises a tall smokestack. It is a power plant at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The power plant

In this building are located the electric generating plant and the central heating plant. All of the buildings south of Dorsey Creek are heated from here.

Turning left from Sands Road into Maryland Avenue, one soon approaches three buildings, sometimes referred to as the "Academic Group."

[image ALT: A group of three three-story buildings of similar styles, forming a symmetrical arrangement in which two nearly identical cubical buildings frame a central building roughly two their size. This central building is surmounted by a tower extending another three stories into the sky. A long paved walk thru a park planted with regularly spaced trees reaches from the foreground to the group. It is the 'Academic Group' at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Academic Group

This view is from Bancroft Hall. Down this double walk (Stribling Walk) with the grass plot in the center the midshipmen march to recitations each period. Tecumseh, the Mexican Monument, and the Macedonian Monument in the order named from Bancroft Hall, are in the center grass plot. The tennis courts may be seen on the right.

The left wing is Maury Hall, which derived its name from the great oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury. It houses the Departments of English and History, and Mathematics. Here are located also the offices of the U. S. Naval Institute which publishes many textbooks and other works on naval subjects as well as a widely distributed magazine called United States Naval Institute Proceedings. Maury Hall is devoted largely to classrooms and a large hall for holding examinations; but on the ground floor is an extensive Naval Museum, whose collections are grouped under five general heads. The first room on the left contains articles relating to the peace-time services of the Navy — scientific and polar expeditions and diplomatic voyages. Of particular interest in this room is the ethnological material from the South Seas. The room opposite to the right contains exhibits relating to the days of wood and sail; namely, mementos of distinguished naval officers, ship models illustrating the evolution of vessels of war,  p1459 and relics and pictures of sailing vessels of various types. Connected with this room to the right is an inner room, the Curator's office, which contains many articles of great value like log books, autograph letters, swords, Congressional medals, miniatures of officers, class pictures, and other mementos of the "Old" Naval Academy. The fourth room, down the corridor, is devoted to the Spanish-American War and the World War, and deals with the modern Navy of torpedoes, submarines, and steel dreadnoughts. The fifth room is intended to illustrate the epochal changes which took place during the Civil War, a change from the smooth bore to the rifle and from wood and sail to iron and steam. Among the exhibits in the corridor are two reminders of heroic exploits, one in time of war and the other in time of peace. The first is the raft used by Lieutenant Hobson and his men in sinking the Merrimac in the channel leading to Santiago.​l The other is the gig of the U. S. S. Saginaw in which five men made a voyage of a thousand miles 1,500 miles from Midway Islands, where the Saginaw was wrecked on a coral reef, to Hawaii to get help for their shipwrecked comrades. In landing the cockleshell of a boat, Lieutenant John G. Talbot and three of his emaciated men, one of whom had become insane, were drowned in the breakers. The survivor, however, delivered his message and aid was sent to the marooned crew of the Saginaw.​m On a tablet commemorating this exploit, in the Naval Academy Chapel are these words: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

The right wing of "The Academic Group" is Sampson Hall, named in honor of Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, who won fame during the Spanish-American War. This building is devoted to chemistry, physics, and electricity, including radio. Besides the usual classrooms and a well-equipped scientific lecture hall, there are separate laboratories for chemistry, physics, radio, elementary electricity and magnetism, and electrical machinery.  p1461 In the lecture hall on the front wall are some flags of the U. S. S. New York, Sampson's flagship at the Battle of Santiago.

The central building is Mahan Hall, named after Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, the great naval historian. It houses the Library and the Auditorium. The Library contains about 75,000 volumes, of which approximately 17,000 titles relate to naval and kindred subjects. On the stairway leading up to the Library and in the Reference Room and General Reading Room are signal guns from the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah, Dewey flags taken at the Battle of Manila Bay, portraits of the first eight Presidents of the United States, busts and memorial tablets, portraits of the Superintendents of the Naval Academy, ship models, paintings, and various other objects of interest. In the Auditorium the midshipmen attend lectures, moving pictures, and dramatic and musical amateur productions. Along the corridors of Mahan Hall and in the Auditorium is displayed under glass a unique collection of flags, most of which were captured by the United States Navy in battle. Among these the most noteworthy are the ensign of the French frigate Insurgente, captured by the Constellation under command of Captain Thomas Truxtun in 1799 in the War with the French Directory; the ensigns, jacks, or pennants of the British ships Detroit, Chippewa, Hunter, Little Belt, and Queen Charlotte, captured by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812; the ensigns of the Chub, Linnet, and Confiance, taken from the British by Commodore Thomas Macdonough in the Battle of Lake Champlain; the ensign of the Alert, captured by Captain David Porter in the Essex; the ensign of the Boxer, captured by Captain William Burrows in the Enterprise; the ensign of the Duke of Gloucester and a British Royal Standard, captured by Commodore Isaac Chauncey at York (now Toronto); the jack of the Epervier and the ensigns of the Frolic and Penguin, captured respectively by the Peacock under Captain Lewis Warrington, the Wasp (first of the name) under Captain Jacob Jones, and the Hornet under Captain James Biddle; and finally the jack and the pennant of the Guerrière, the ensign of the Java, and the ensigns and jacks of the Cyane and Levant, all of them the prizes of our most famous ship, the Constitution, under command respectively of Isaac Hull, William Bainbridge, and Charles Stewart, and the ensign of the Macedonian, captured by Stephen Decatur while in command of the United States.  p1463 The very names of these trophies call the roll of the victories of our Navy in a war which was remarkable for the achievements of a young nation upon the sea, a war from which date some of our best naval traditions. In addition to these prizes of battle, there are some other interesting flags not connected with war; for example, the first American flag raised in Japan, the 4‑star admiral's flag flown by Farragut, the boat flag of the U. S. S. Huron which was wrecked off Cape Hatteras on November 24, 1877, and the ensign and jack of the Maine which was sunk in the harbor of Havana just before the outbreak of war with Spain.

As one returns to Maryland Avenue, he will notice facing Mahan Hall at the foot of Stribling Walk a white figurehead, representing a Greek warrior, surrounded by four guns taken from the British frigate Macedonian in the War of 1812.

[image ALT: A small stone monument, about 3 to 4 meters tall, against a backdrop of a wooded park. It consists of a figurehead of a warrior wearing a plume-crested helmet; which sits on a rectangular pedestal at the base of which four small naval guns point away from it, one at each corner. It is the Macedonian Monument at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Macedonian Monument

This is a replica of the figurehead of H. M. S. Macedonian captured by the U. S. S. United States under the command of Stephen Decatur during the War of 1812. The four carronades surrounding its base were taken from the prize.

Toward the north immediately behind Mahan Hall is located Isherwood Hall, named in honor of Engineer in Chief Benjamin Franklin Isherwood, a leading authority on marine engines in the early days of steam, whose bust is placed over the main entrance. Here is housed the Department of Engineering with a mechanical drawing room; boiler, forge, pattern, blacksmith, and machine shops; a model room, a steam laboratory, and an aviation loft. Of particular interest to the visitor are the models of airplanes and modern war vessels in the main room on the ground floor. Here is also an interesting collection of marine engines, airplane engines, boilers, and models of dry docks.
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[image ALT: A low building — ground floor and the story above it — seen stretching diagonally into the background. It has a central archway and six sets of windows on each floor extending on either side of it, a total of twelve, each one above a matching door. It is Isherwood Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Isherwood Hall

Here it is that midshipmen study steam and mechanical engineering with all the related parts, and something of hull structures, from "fairing in" the lines of a hull to the proper way to use a file.

North of Isherwood Hall is a grassy triangle  p1465 at the vertices of which are placed three noteworthy guns: an Armstrong rifle which was captured at the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865; a 100‑pounder rifle from the Confederate ram Albemarle which was sunk by Lieutenant William B. Cushing;​n and Ericsson's smoothbore, named the Oregon, which was a pioneer of the big naval gun of to‑day. Continuing along McNair Road, one will arrive presently at the bridge across Dorsey Creek from which one can see on the left the new Hubbard Boat House where the shells for the Navy Crews are kept. It was named in honor of Rear Admiral John Hubbard, stroke of the first Navy crew to compete with an outside organization in the year 1870.

[image ALT: A small building by the side of a pool of water. While the upper story has the usual assortment of windows, the ground floor has a few tall doors or bays. A ramp connects the building to the pond. It is Hubbard Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Hubbard Hall

This is a complete, up‑to‑date training place for the various race-boat crews. In addition to the large tank in which running water from Dorsey Creek flows, rowing machines, dressing rooms, etc., there is a beautiful meeting-room for the "N" Club.

Behind it is Lawrence Field, and in the distance the buildings of the Postgraduate School.
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[image ALT: A partial view of a baseball diamond, with a few players on the field. The background is of a dozen ranks of bleachers, in which three or four spectators are seated. It is Lawrence Field at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Lawrence Field

Named in honor of Captain James Lawrence whose dying words "Don't give up the ship," have become the shining star of naval tradition. This view shows the baseball diamond and stands which occupy the southwest corner of Lawrence Field.


[image ALT: A large low building, three stories tall, with a central core rising somewhat higher and fronted by an arcade of eight arches and a somewhat taller central arch. On either side of the core, about twenty windows can be seen on each story. It sits in an expanse of bare grass; behind it, a few trees. It is the Postgraduate School at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Postgraduate School

Originally built as barracks for the marine detachment, this building is now used for postgraduate instruction. About 300 officers on their first shore duty, 5 to 7 years after graduation, are sent here each year for special courses.The Postgraduate School is located on the western side of Lawrence Field.

From Dorsey Creek bridge a road leads to the right up the hill past the Naval Cemetery to the Naval Hospital, in front of which one may enjoy an extensive view of the Severn River, the Naval Academy Golf Course and the surrounding country.

[image ALT: A largish house — ground floor and a single upper story — with a pitched roof with two chimneys and a small central lantern. The main door is provided with a plain porte cochère, accessed by a curved driveway; there are three windows per floor on either side of this main entrance. It is the central building of the hospital at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Naval Hospital

The central building of the Naval Hospital. After a ride in the naval ambulance, the only automobile midshipmen are permitted to enter, along the side of the Naval Cemetery, the midshipmen are admitted and sent to one of the various wards located in adjacent buildings. If a midshipman is very ill, he is placed in a private room.

The most imposing monument in the Naval Cemetery is the Jeannette Monument, a granite pile surmounted by a large marble cross; on it is the following inscription: "Commemorative of the heroic officers and men of the United States Navy who perished in the Jeannette Arctic Exploring Expedition." The cairn in the Naval Academy Cemetery is a replica of the one left in the Arctic over the body of Lieutenant Commander G. W. De Long, commander of the steamer Jeannette, in 1882, by his Chief Engineer, G. W. Melville, who made a vain effort to rescue his commander and a group of his men who became lost in heavy snowstorms after the ship had been crushed in the ice and sunk.

[image ALT: A monument, about five meters tall, consisting of a stone cairn topped by a large cross at the base of which rests an anchor on its side. It is the Jeannette Monument at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Jeannette Monument

This monument stands in the Naval Cemetery and is an exact replica of the one erected in the far north in memory of the ill‑fated Jeannette Polar Expedition of 1877.

In the Naval Cemetery lie the remains of many gallant naval officers who met death "in the line of duty" or died peacefully after a long and distinguished career in the Service. May they rest in peace on this quiet knoll overlooking the Academy which is endeavoring to train the midshipmen of to‑day to play equally well their parts as naval officers of the future.

Recrossing the Dorsey Creek bridge and turning to the right into Rodgers Road and then to the left into Upshur Road (both named after former Superintendents of the Naval Academy), one passes around Worden Field, the name of which is derived from Rear Admiral John L. Worden, who was in command of the Monitor in her epochal encounter on March 9, 1862, with the Merrimac (C. S. S. Virginia), whose commander was Captain Franklin Buchanan, the first Superintendent of the Naval Academy. On this field the midshipmen have their formal dress parades before distinguished visitors and  p1467 during June Week ceremonies incident to graduation exercises. The red brick houses facing this field are officers' quarters.
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[image ALT: A large grass field on which several hundred military personnel, maybe a thousand, stand in formation. In the background, trees and two large buildings: the one on the left has a tower, the one right of center is domed. It is a view of a dress parade at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Dress Parade

All dress parades are held on Worden Field and they are an inspiring sight. Everyone who has witnessed them is impressed by the precision and smartness with which they are carried out. To be appreciated they must be seen.

On the way back to the Main Gate on Maryland Avenue, one will pass near one of the most interesting and beautiful monuments in the grounds of the Academy. It is called the Tripoli Monument, and consists of a marble base surmounted by a column which is surrounded by female figures symbolizing America, Commerce, History, and Victory. The monument, the work of the sculptor Micali, was brought from Italy by the frigate Constitution, which had played a leading part in the War with Tripoli. It is a tribute from brother officers to Robert Somers, James Caldwell, James Decatur, Henry Wadsworth, Joseph Israel, and John Dorsey who lost their lives before Tripoli. The monument is situated between Sampson Hall and the Officers' Club.

[image ALT: A monument, about ten meters tall, consisting of a column topped by a statue of some kind and sitting on a cubical base, in turn resting on a wide and solid pile of regular stone masonry. The face we see bears the inscription 'To the memory of Somers, Caldwell, Decatur, Wadsworth, Dorsey, Israel'. It is the Tripolitan Monument at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

Tripolitan Monument

This monument was brought to the Naval Academy in 1860 after standing in Washington for 52 years. It now stands between Sampson Hall, seen in the background, and the Officer's Club.


[image ALT: A largish house — ground floor and a story above it — with a steeply pitched roof, and a covered verandah supported by elegant thin columns. In the left foreground, a conifer towers above the house. There is snow on the ground and on the roof of the house. It is the Officers' Club at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.]

The Officer's Club

Some of the bachelor officers attached to the Naval Academy have their quarters here. The lower floor is given over to the Naval Academy Officer's Club and is the scene of many social affairs for officers attached to the station.

Back at the Main Gate, from which the tour of the Naval Academy was begun, one carries away in spring, summer, or early autumn a picture in blue, green, and gray — the blue of the Severn River, Dorsey Creek, and the Chesapeake; the green of well-kept lawns, athletic and drill fields, and hedges, shrubbery, and stately trees; and the gray of the buildings, all admirably adapted to the uses for which they are intended. In winter, when the trees have shed their brown leaves and the green has faded from the lawns and the drill grounds, the picture is one of a study in gray in varying shades. But in every season one carries away an impression of a place steeped in tradition. Every monument, every flag, every trophy, every memorial, even the names of the buildings in which the midshipmen live and work and of the very walks they tread and the fields in which they drill or engage in sports, all are constant reminders of the worthy service and glorious deeds of naval officers who have preceded them and at the same time are incentives to high endeavor and ambitious emulation.


Thayer's Notes:

a1 a2 A reminder that this article was published in 1935: the Naval Academy and its physical plant have of course continued to evolve. In particular, land has been reclaimed from the Severn so that the America basin at the top of the map has become Ingram Field and its northern shore has been extended by the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility; the area marked Farragut Field on the map has been eaten into by the construction of Wesley Brown Fieldhouse, Lejeune Hall (swimming and martial arts), and Mitscher Hall; part of Farragut Field has been renamed Rip Miller Field, including where Thompson Stadium once stood; the Mess Hall described in this article has been given its own larger dedicated building, King Hall; Bancroft Hall has been further expanded; and several monuments and lesser buildings have been added.

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b The abandoned cimetière Saint-Louis in northeastern Paris. A detailed account of how Jones' body was found and identified is given by Henri Marion in John Paul Jones' Last Cruise and Final Resting Place the United States Naval Academy, pp59‑63; it's unexpectedly interesting.

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c "Contemporary" may confuse some. Houdon is the 18c sculptor, contemporaneous with John Paul Jones; and the bust was in fact used to confirm the identity of the man in the lead coffin.

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d For good details and several full-color photographs of the crypt and Jones' sarcophagus, see the Naval Academy's site, of course.

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e An accurate statement but a misleading one. Herndon had been dead for two years when President Arthur married his daughter Ellen in 1859.

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f Not on Perry's epoch-making first visit to Japan in 1853, but on his way Statesward from his second visit, on July 12, 1854: Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan (M. C. Perry and F. L. Hawks, 1856), p496. The 15c bell was given by the Regent of the Ryukyu (Lew Chew) Islands to Perry's expedition as part of a mutual exchange of gifts. In July 1987 it was in turn given by the Naval Academy back to Japan at the request of the Okinawans, many of whose historical monuments had been destroyed by American bombings during World War II; its place at the Naval Academy was taken by an exact copy.

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g A better view of the colonnade can be seen in the photograph on p1568 of this issue of the Proceedings.

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h A real Native American chief, whose virtues, magnified, earned him a special aura after his death: see Heckewelder's History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States, pp300‑301.

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i The Naval Academy has since adopted a letter grade system. Today Tecumseh is the God of 2.0, the now meaningless "2.5" having been streamlined, as it were.

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j1 j2 A beautiful full-color view of Memorial Hall, towards the western end with Perry's flag over the staircase, can be seen in my footnote to Norris's Annapolis.

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k She deteriorated thru continuing neglect, and fell victim to a weather-related accident in 1942; her remains were burned in 1945. The Naval Academy's record in preserving history, while good over all, is not perfect, as pointed out by the occasional naval writer: see in this same issue, "The Colonial Government House of Maryland".

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l The exploit of Lieutenant Hobson and his men is told at least five times on this site; see Puleston's Annapolis, p117; my footnote there links to the other references. Midshipman Joseph Powell, Class of 1897, is also mentioned in the text.

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m R. E. Johnson, Thence Round Cape Horn, p132 f.

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n "The Ram Albemarle", in Clark et al., A Short History of the United States Navy, pp350‑364.


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Page updated: 14 Nov 21