Woolsey Hall’s lobby walls feature large marble slabs, arranged by war, inscribed with the names, military and Yale affiliations, and date and place of death.
The Civil War memorial, flanking the corridor between the hall’s rotunda and its west entrance, was dedicated in 1915. Reflecting the spirit of reconciliation common at the time of dedication, the memorial blends Yale graduates and students who died while serving the Union and Confederate forces.
The floor between the memorial plaques has an inset dedication reading, “To the men of Yale who gave their lives in the Civil War. The university has dedicated this memorial that their high devotion may live in all her son and that the bonds which now unite the land may endure. MCMXV (1915).”
Below the dedication, which is becoming hard to read after years of foot traffic, is evidence of an earlier inscription.
The Civil War tablets list 113 killed defending the Union, and 54 killed serving the Confederate states.
The north wall features allegorical figures representing peace and devotion. Peace is depicted as a woman holding a child and an olive branch, and an inscription above her head reads, “Peace crowns their act of sacrifice.” Devotion is pictured as a toga-draped flag-bearer. An inscription reads, “Devotion gives a sanctity to strife.”
The south wall features allegorical depictions of Memory and Courage. Memory is depicted as a woman holding an hourglass, and an inscription reads, “Memory here guards their ennobled names.” Courage is pictured as a classical warrior, and his inscription reads, “Courage disdains fame and wins it.”
Among the students and graduates honored is Uriah Nelson Parmelee, a Guilford native who left Yale as a junior. He served with a New York regiment and was named a captain in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry before he was killed April 1, 1865, at the Battle of Five Forks in Virginia. Parmelee was killed less than two weeks before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
The memorial also honors Francis Stebbins Bartow, a law school graduate and Georgia native. A fervent secessionist, Bartow organized an infantry company and was killed during the first Battle of Bull Run/Manassas in 1861. Bartow was the first brigade commander killed in the war.
The memorial was created by sculptor Henry Hering, whose other notable works include the World War plaza and memorial at the American Legion’s headquarters in Indianapolis.
Veterans of other wars are honored with similar tablets along the lobby’s interior hallway. In 1920, for instance, the university added eight tablets honoring 225 graduates and students killed during World War I.
The west lobby also contains plaques honoring graduates killed while serving as missionaries, including several who died during the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Woolsey Hall, at the corner of Grove and College streets, was dedicated in 1901 as part of the celebration of Yale’s bicentennial. The building is also known as Memorial Hall.