William Gibbons’ Horse Journal

In 1833, William Gibbons, the wealthy son of steamboat tycoon Thomas Gibbons, built the plantation-style mansion now called Mead Hall, along with a stable for his prize racehorses. Gibbons’ journal records in his own handwriting notes on his horse purchases, breeding, and racing, including several pages on his most well-known champion mare, Fashion, who made history in 1841 by defeating Boston, a stallion, in an upset race. In 1842, Fashion reinforced her fame by setting a four-mile record that stood for more than 13 years. Gibbons’ journal is a valuable primary source for understanding the history and development of thoroughbred breeding and racing in 19th century America.

 

Mead Hall Fire

On August 24, 1989, Mead Hall — the 1832 Greek Revival mansion that pre-dates the University in the Forest on this site– caught fire. What started as a “reported small fire in the wall of Mead Hall” burned for 23 hours and took fire companies from 13 towns to quell. Faculty, students and staff gathered on the lawn, and looked on aghast.