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Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks

Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks
Identification: VAC406
Date: 1919-1920
Size/Quantity: 0.1 linear feet (2 copies, 24 photos each)
Language: This collection is written in English.
Creator: Stephens, Phinehas Varnum
Repository: Archives & Records Management, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology
Abstract:The 24 photographs in this collection document the deplorable conditions of the walkways and roads on the Georgia Tech campus in 1919.

Biographical/Historical Note

Born in 1879 in Maine, Phinehas Varnum Stephens was a grandson of Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens. Phinehas V. Stephens received two bachelor’s degrees from the Georgia School of Technology: the first degree in 1905 in Electrical Engineering and the second in Mechanical Engineering in 1914.

The first few years following his graduation in 1905, Stephens worked for several companies, however he soon established himself as a consulting engineer. Although Stephens, his wife Charlotte, and their three children lived in New York City, Stephens worked all along the East Coast, including a significant amount work for Tech.

Stephens served his alma mater in many capacities, particularly as a consulting engineer and as a lobbyist. In 1914, he was in charge of the construction of Tech's new power plant. Later that year, he agreed to lead the Greater Georgia Tech fund-raising campaign. This drive, originally to raise $500,000 for campus improvements, was tabled during the First World War. After the war the campaign was resurrected, still lead by Stephens, this time aiming to raise even more money to improve the physical plant of the school and establish Tech as a center for research and industrial development for all of Georgia.

P.V. Stephens lobbied extensively to establish an engineering experiment station in each state and for Georgia Tech to be the location in Georgia. As part of his Tech booster activities, Stephens also helped to reorganize and reinvigorate the GT alumni organization in 1920.

In 1927, Stephens and another lighting engineer, Samuel Hibben, designed and installed a light show at the Natural Bridge of Virginia. The “Drama of Creation” remains an attraction at the Natural Bridge and still retains the original character developed by Stephens and Hibben.

Stephens incurred an untimely death on 16 December 1927 when he fell out of an airplane. A New York Times article on 17 December 1927 and his obituary in that paper the next day stated that Stephens was on an air tour of Virginia helping Shenandoah Valley municipalities campaign for airports. While the plane was over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the pilot drove into a severe storm that caused the aircraft to drop abruptly from 3000 to 2000 feet. This sudden descent “unseated” Stephens and Richard R. Fellers, one of the other two passengers on the plane. Fellers “seized a wing and saved his life” but Stephens fell to his death.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 24 black and white photographs taken by Phinehas V. Stephens in June 1919. These photographs document the deplorable conditions of the walkways and roads on the Georgia Tech campus. Stephens describes the location of each photo and the dangerous conditions that exist at each location. In the 1920 preface letter to the Board of Trustees and the school's president, Kenneth G. Matheson, Stephens appeals to them to make permanent repairs. Stephens argues that making permanent repairs not only is safer for the students but also saves money in the long-run.

There are two copies of this report. Both copies contain the same images, however they are not in the same order. Additionally, the captions in one copy are handwritten, while in the other, the captions are typed. The numbers in brackets following each item description identify the photo number in each report: the report with the typed captions is listed first; the report with the handwritten captions is second.


The materials in this collection remain in their original order as created by P.V. Stephens.

Index Terms

Campus planning--Georgia--Atlanta.
Grounds maintenance.
Universities and colleges--Safety measures.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Please cite Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks Visual Materials VAC406, Archives, Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology.


Accession #2012.004. These items were previously cataloged as T171 .G44 S73x 1920.

Processing Information

Mandi D. Johnson processed these visual materials in January 2012.


Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

Container List

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VAC406-01: Approach to Automobile School: A much used drive and walk to Hospital and other buildings. Very imperfect drainage. [1/23], 1919
VAC406-02: Curve and Grade Entrance Drive: Note dangerous ruts and permanent damage to the thin concrete gutter. [2/3], 1919
VAC406-03: Drive Front of Library: Unsightly and a constant nuisance. [3/8], 1919
VAC406-04: Approach to Textile School: Long rough gutter across walk entering dangerous drain hole to sewer or sub passage. [4/17], 1919
VAC406-05: Under Trees in Front of Library: Drives also used as a walk. Rough washout around curve. [5/19], 1919
VAC406-06: In Front of Academic Building: Main drive is washed out with ruts with every hard rain. Very bad appearance. [6/18], 1919
VAC406-07: Rear of Chapel: dangerous to life and limb. Note auto track lower right hand corner of picture. [7/7], 1919
VAC406-08: A West Entrance: Deep washout side of road near Electrical Building. [8/6], 1919
VAC406-09: Front of Textile Mill: Gutter 18 ins. deep very dangerous to autos and pedestrians. [9/5], 1919
VAC406-10: Front of Academic Bldg: A place that requires constant grading. Should be _permanent Cement_. [10/10], 1919
VAC406-11: Crushed Rock Drive: Between Textile Mill and Power Plant. Worse with each hard rain. [11/4], 1919
VAC406-12: Front of Entrance Chemistry Building: Where there is much travel by students day and night - Dangerous. [12/22], 1919
VAC406-13: S.E. Corner-Drive New Power Plant: Illustrating danger and waste of money in a semi-permanent road construction on a college campus of steep grades and inadequate drainage. [13/15], 1919
VAC406-14: Front of Academic Bldg: Bad ruts and dangerous sewer mouth. [14/9], 1919
VAC406-15: Steps and Sidewalk at Textile Mill: Other similar places on the campus need _permanent Concrete_ construction. [15/14], 1919
VAC406-16: West Entrance to New Power Plant: Heavy trucking demands a very substantial and permanent concrete roadway and sidewalk. [16/13], 1919
VAC406-17: Approach to New Power Plant: Results of improper Construction Heavy trucking and washing of road by rains. [17/16], 1919
VAC406-18: Front of Automobile School: Deep rut 6 to 12 ins deep all across drive. Wash from roof discharge pipe very dangerous. [18/12], 1919
VAC406-19: Front Entrance New Power Laboratory: Crushed stone surface badly washed affecting gutter, curbing and sidewalk. [19/21], 1919
VAC406-20: Near Entrance to Physics Laboratory: Ditches 18" deep between walk and roadway, always dangerous. [20/20], 1919
VAC406-21: Drive Junction New Power Plant: Heavy wash from grade and roof of Textile Mill. Dangerous Corner. Note Sewer Manhole with _broken wooden_ cover, also dangerous condition of sidewalk and curb. [21/24], 1919
VAC406-22: East Drive: Dangerous Washout causing break in gutter and retaining wall between Chemical Bldg and Textile Mill. [22/1], 1919
VAC406-23: Campus Entrance Drive: Constant Washouts from high Terrace. Dangerous to autos and pedstrians. [23/2], 1919
VAC406-24: Front of Textile Mill: Grade and ruts specially dangerous to students. Roadway _above_ sidewalk causes damage to latter and waste of money. [24/11], 1919