Concept schematic of Abbott Dining Hall's kitchen proposed by Walker O. Cain & Associates with Crabtree Associates, 1974
Legend for proposed schematic by Walker O. Cain & Associates with Crabtree Associates, 1974
Cows, ca. 1990
Cowboy, ca. 1970
The Lawrenceville School drastically changed ten years after Abbott Dining Hall’s inception in both the institution’s general operation and physical plant. Irwin Dining Center, designed by acclaimed architect Walker O. Cain (1915-1993) (who had assumed leadership of the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead, and White), opened in 1972 and revealed Abbott Dining Hall’s deficiencies. Student voices took to The Lawrence with tales of broken equipment and long food service lines doling out small portions of cold food in Abbott. Recognizing the student body’s dissatisfaction with the dining facility as well as malfunctioning appliances and poor traffic lines through the servery, the administration asked Walker O. Cain & Associates in 1974 to generate new designs to improve the kitchen and serving area. Written correspondence indicates that initial concepts by the firm were extensive. They included the removal of all the existing kitchen equipment, the partitions between kitchen spaces, and sections of the flooring in order to build a serving area with a 12-foot-wide roll down door between the hall and the kitchen, as well as a dishwashing room with quarry tile flooring, a 25-foot-long beverage counter, and a new cooking station with an improved ventilation system. Associated costs unfortunately prohibited implementation of this design and a second study was executed during the summer of 1974.
The second study conducted by Walker O. Cain & Associates, Crabtree Associates, and The Lawrenceville School’s Property Committee relocated the serving and cooking areas to the upper northwestern most point of the kitchen where Walter Frederick Thaete had built storage for dry goods and linens. Access to the proposed serving area was through a new door placed between the hallway that led to Upper House’s common room and the kitchen. The study also relocated dish return and washing to the southwest and southeastern portions of the room where Thaete had originally positioned the serving area. Unfortunately, this proposal, too, was hindered by estimated costs. A nation-wide beef and grain shortage increased expenses for feeding campus which ultimately left less funding available for fixing Abbott Dining Hall. Recognizing the deteriorated state of the kitchen’s appliances and surfaces, however, the School did replace and repair stainless steel machinery, installed new splash and sneeze guards in the serving area, and retiled sections of the floor and walls by January of 1975 in the hopes of mimicking the food service operations that were successful in Irwin Dining Hall. Unfortunately, these repairs were a temporary solution in order to extend the life of the building.
Colonel George Bissland Moore, PhD L’37 P’69 ’71 (1918-2014), The Lawrenceville School’s Business Manager, consulted Walker O. Cain’s firm – by then renamed Cain, Ferrell & Bell – again in 1979 in the hopes of sprucing up the eating areas within Abbott Dining Hall to give the building a more contemporary feel. Natural toned acrylic carpeting with an octagonal design was selected for the floors of the main hall, Head Master’s Dining Room, and side faculty dining room. Vertical blinds would be installed on the southwestern window wall above the doors to the patio to block afternoon light. The remaining entrances into the main hall would be covered in applied door trim to convert each doorway into faux semicircular arches. Wood accents would then continue around the main dining space via a chair rail and the walls above the rail would be painted in a dark color on which House Banners would be displayed. The wall between the doors to the serving area would be converted into an oversized vinyl bulletin board which could be easily cleaned. Additionally, to improve lighting, the existing chandeliers would be lowered fifteen feet. Color schemes considered for this plan included grey and white carpeting with “lively” green walls above a white epoxy dado or a red and sepia carpet with “Neo Georgian” white walls and a grey dado. Although Cain, Ferrell & Bells’ interior design schematic for Abbott Dining Hall was placed on hold pending future funding, it ultimately germinated the next phase of design which incorporated abundant amounts of vinyl.