Biographical / Historical
Opened in 1924, this student dormitory was a gift of the Alumni Association as a “lasting memorial to the 42 Lawrenceville heroes who bravely gave up their lives in the Great War.” The Lawrenceville Alumni War Memorial Building,” designed by William Adams Delano ’91, eventually became known as “Lower School.” The brick building was comprised of two identical two-story wings, housing four Houses (dormitories): Cromwell, Davidson, Perry Ross and Thomas, named after four Lawrentians who fought in World War I, three of whom died in the war: James H. R. Cromwell ’15 (who later married Doris Duke); Philip J. Davidson ’11, died August, 1918; Gerald P. Thomas ’15, died August 28, 1918 and Perry Ross Rosenheim ’14, died April 18, 1919. A large wooden memorial tablet listing the names of Lawrentians who died in the war was located over the fireplace in the Common Room in Lower. It was moved to the Bunting Room in Hogate Hall in 1990.
Occupants of Lower School were First and Second Form (eighth and ninth grade) boys who had, until this building was complete, been living in various houses in the village. In the 1930s and 1940s, there was also a Shell Form (seventh grade) for a small number of boys who needed preparation for First Form. Each House in Lower consisted of a long corridor with a master’s apartment at the end. Boys lived side by side in “cubicles,” rooms with eight-foot high wooden walls on three sides and a curtained entrance on the fourth. Each room was furnished with a bed, chair, bureau, mirror, radiator and window. Dr. Abbott, the Head Master, championed the cubicles as Spartan-like engines of character building, but Lower was soon christened by the boys as “The Incubator.”
Lower School was virtually a school within a school. In the center of the building were the residences of the Director of Lower School, the dining room and a study hall, where each boy had his own desk. Boys in Lower had their own House sports, published their own newspaper and yearbook, produced their own plays, and elected their own officers.
When the Irwin Dining Center was built, the dining rooms in the Circle Houses were renovated into more student space, so that boys from Dawes and Raymond could be incorporated into those Houses. At this point, in 1972, boys from Davidson and Thomas were moved to Raymond, and those from Perry Ross and Cromwell to Dawes. An enlarged Alumni and Development Office moved into one wing, and Fifth Formers into the other (called “Hyatt House”) in what then was called “Old Lower.” Lower was torn down in 1987 to make room for the construction of the Crescent Houses.