Herrick Memorial Library at Alfred University

  • Archives & Special Collections
  • Herrick Memorial Library
  • Alfred University
  • 1 Saxon Drive
  • Alfred, NY 14802
  • 607-871-2385 (Phone)
  • 607-871-2299 (Fax)

Prexy's Pool

One of Alfred's general stores used to be located on the south lot next to Carnegie Hall (which, by the way, was built on the site of Alfred's old hotel). In 1905, the store was purchased by the University trustees and continued in operation until July 1913 when it burned down. The ruins were cleared and the cellar was made into a 20'x 25' sunken garden stocked with goldfish and water lilies. It affectionately became known as "Prexy's Bath Tub," and in later years, "Prexy's Pool."

photo of Prexy's Pool

The March 30, 1937 edition of the student newspaper, Fiat Lux, reported the following story as to how the pool received its name: "President-Emeritus Boothe C. Davis dashed from his office in the basement of Carnegie Library and pulled a child from the waters of a pool, and 'Prexy's Bathtub' got its name. This is the version of the origin of the name which was told to a Fiat reporter recently by the brother of the rescued child. The incident happened about 20 years ago, when Dr. Davis was president of Alfred University. 'My brother and I were leaning over the pool when he toppled in,' said the source of our information, who wishes to remain unknown. 'I was too small to pull him out, so we yelled for help, and President Davis came from his office and rescued him.'"

photo of students at Prexy's Pool

The pool became the center of many student activities. The Class of 1918 utilized it for its Moving-Up Ceremonies. As freshmen, they emerged late at night in fantastic costumes and paraded through campus with floats and impersonations representing the year's campus events. They were then symbolically "buried" as freshmen in Prexy's Bath Tub, only to arise as sophomores. That ceremony was followed by a bonfire, a musical band playing tin pans and horns, and an early morning picnic feast on Pine Hill.

For forty years, the pool served various student (and other) purposes. By 1952, however, the "activities" had degenerated to such an extent that the pool was filled in during a campus-wide landscaping project that year. The "golden boy" fountain that can be seen in the accompanying photograph is now in the watchful care of the Alfred Historical Society.

Today, the spot is a beautifully landscaped memorial garden dedicated to Marion '37, HD92 and Stephen '37, H92 Bartlett. They were friends, benefactors, and loyal alumni to Alfred University. The "Bartlett Garden" was dedicated on June 3, 1995.