I was saddened to read of the impending demolition of Osborn Clubhouse (recently the Third World Center) with little more than a passing nod to its role in Princeton minority life (Notebook, April 28). The article and perhaps the University seem not to consider Osborn as “iconic” as its peer buildings, Chancellor Green or East Pyne, but this assertion is a very narrow definition of what being an icon means. It is not merely appearance that establishes a building’s place in the community’s heart. Rather, its significance to groups of individuals, or to the events of its era, solidifies its stature.
I was among the last generation to find a sort of refuge at the TWC, which served a unique need for the students of color, even in 2001. It was our Ivy Club, our Frist, our Firestone. Significant events for the Princeton black, Hispanic, international, and Asian communities happened there. The Community House program launched there. The charters of minority student groups were drafted there. I wrote parts of my thesis there, attended the only formals outside of eating clubs there, and started a Black History Month event for local children there.
Last year I attended the dedication of the new Carl Fields Center and am overjoyed by that accomplishment. Additionally, it is reasonable to expect the Princeton architectural footprint to change over time. But neither of these is a reason to diminish the criticality of the TWC to thousands of students of color over recent decades by suggesting that the building itself is less important to the Princeton fabric than other campus locations.
To those who considered TWC a home away from home, the Osborn Clubhouse is indeed a Princeton
icon. If it cannot be saved, at least fair recognition of its historic contribution to Princeton is deserved.