Thanks so much for the fine write-up on Old Fine Hall and the insight that “ultimately, much of the credit for making Fine Hall such an exciting place to live and work in these years belongs to Veblen.” A pictorial tour of Old Fine Hall, with its opulent quarter-sawn oak paneling, Einstein inscription, and stained-glass equations, can be found at http://bit.ly/oldfine.
Oswald Veblen’s vision extended beyond mathematics to early computers and even open-space conservation.
While bringing previously dispersed scholars together in buildings like (Old) Fine Hall and Fuld Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study, he was also bringing parcels of land together to conserve 600 acres of open space for the Institute Woods and another 100 acres that he and his wife ultimately donated for Princeton’s first nature preserve, Herrontown Woods. That donation included a house and cottage, historically unique and long boarded-up, that our nonprofit (FOHW.org) is working to repair and finally put to public use as the Veblens envisioned.
The boarded-up Veblen House and the accompanying nature preserve that had become overgrown until our group began restoring habitat and trails four years ago stand as a metaphor for a legacy that has long flown under the radar. Gradually, through PAW’s article, the University’s 2012 Turing Centennial Celebration, and last fall’s “A Paradise for Scholars” event at the Institute, Oswald Veblen’s legacy, broad and deep, is becoming more widely known.