BC's Fulton Hall: Home to the Carroll School of Oz
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Upon entering the Fulton Atrium for the first time, prepare to find yourself overcome with a strange and inexplicable notion that you ought to be wearing a pair of ruby red slippers and carrying your books in a small wicker basket. Had you failed to take part in a student-guided tour of Boston College prior to enrolling, distinguishing the cause of these sudden urges may be a challenge. The majority of BC students, though, fondly recall from their campus tours the fascinating phenomenon that is Fulton Hall’s Wizard of Oz theme.
First and foremost, the large, tin, dome-shaped light fixtures that hang from the ceiling are undoubtedly reminiscent of the Tin Man’s hat. The curved construction of the risers in the arched ceiling look unusually similar to an outline of Glinda the Good Witch. The abstract design of the tapestries hanging on the wall represent the disorder of the Kansas tornado, and are even woven with the red, pink, and black hues of a poppy flower. Not convinced yet? Have you noticed the streak of red tile leading from the back entrance of the atrium to the portrait of Wallace E. Carroll? Did you know the book version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz actually featured a red brick road? Some say the stones lining the glass facing the Honors Library are positioned to look like the Scarecrow’s hat. As if these architectural features don’t already create enough of a Wizard of Oz vibe, take a look at the Latin inscription on the second bench on the right as you walk into the Atrium. The Latin reads, “Certes Toto Sentio Non In Kansate Tam Adesse,” which, translated into English, reads, “Certainly Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Yep, you’re definitely going to have to wear that blue and white gingham shirt next time you have class in Fulton.
However undeniable the Wizard of Oz theme in the Fulton Atrium may seem, many debate that the aspects were not actually intentional creations of architect David Ickes. DJ Adams and Brianna Nassif, senior tour guides in the Student Admissions Program and both A&S ’13, like to suggest to their tours that the architect’s wife was a “huge fan of The Wizard of Oz,” which led Ickes to incorporate the features into his construction of the Powers Atrium (the official title of the Fulton lobby). Others contend this claim, insisting that the individual features exist for reasons entirely unrelated to the Wizard of Oz, such as the distinct type of lighting that the tin fixtures shed on the space and the aesthetic appeal of the French-designed abstract tapestries. Coming to terms with the notion of the direct Wizard of Oz quotation on the wooden bench as a mere coincidence is surely more difficult, yet allegedly the line is simply one of several benches featuring well-known quotations in Latin, several of which come from popular songs or stories, such as lyrics by Duke Elington and a quotation from Alice in Wonderland.
Coincidence or not, the Wizard of Oz-themed architecture in Fulton Hall certainly serves its purpose of bringing light to end of a long campus tour. After walking all the way to Robsham, through Conte, and trudging up the Million Dollar staircase, there is no denying the fact that a tour group may be dragging toward the end. This fascinating anecdote (or rumored coincidence, if you are of the non-believing variety) certainly recaptures this lack of attention. Adams says he often invites his tours to “decide for themselves whether or not the architecture is a coincidence,” and has on numerous occasions been told by a BC student that the only part he truly remembered from his tour was the fascinating “Wizard of Fulton” anecdote.
Regardless of whether or not you believe the theme to be a coincidence, there is no denying the fact that Fulton Hall carries a wonderful, wizardly aura. If nothing else, the phenomena ought to serve as a conversation starter or perhaps an awkward-silence-filler for those of you cowardly-lion CSOM students looking to strike up a conversation with that attractive member of the opposite sex as you wait for class in the Atrium. Who knows, a simple “Did you know…” may lead you both to end up tapping your shiny shoes together in happiness, reciting blissfully, “There’s no place like Fulton.”