Published on Show Me Mizzou August 25, 2022
Story by Dale Smith, BJ ’88
Early photographs of the Quad betray a botanical austerity. It was all about the buildings those generations ago. Perhaps only the grayheads who trod Francis Quadrangle in the 1950s could recall what it looks once again, largely bereft of tree cover. The pin oaks most alumni have known, of late aged and failing, were felled this summer for the safety of passersby. With that, our beloved sylvan yard had its first shave in the better part of a century. The last time was back in the winter of 1947 when an ice storm shattered a rank of elms ringing the Quad.
We all bemoan the loss. There was comfort in the beauty, cool in the shade and luminous color in fall at leaf turn. It wasn’t just the squirrels that lost their nests — those mighty stems were ever-ready backrests for reading or informal colloquy.
Yet consider what a walk on Francis Quadrangle offers now. M.F. Bell’s elegant layout and architecture retake center stage. The scale has recalibrated. Views have re-emerged for the first time in decades. Bell’s grand brick-and-stone structures are every inch a match for the big ideas pinging their labs and classrooms. The quality and significance of the buildings and spaces between have landed the Quad district a coveted spot on the National Register of Historic Places. With that in mind, we take a look at images of Francis Quadrangle going back well over a century.
More on the new trees: showme.missouri.edu/2022/planting-a-legacy