Obscure places on campus

James Hur

Most students probably know the school’s campus like the backs of their hands. They know the shorter alternative routes  to get to class as well as which stairs are less arduous to climb. Yet, there are still some nooks and crannies of campus that remain less known.

While many faculty members regularly climb the stairs connecting Rugby and the faculty lot, very few ever use the dirt path adjacent to the stairs. The path leads to a modest, forest-green building with a locked door. Until 1969, this building was a shooting range.

Students who attended the Harvard School for Boys when it was a military academy from 1900 to 1969 used the facility to practice using rifles.

It was converted into a storage room for maintenance immediately after the merging of Harvard and the Westlake School for Girls.

“I think the rifle range is very cool because it shows the history of Harvard,” Katie Ehrlich ’14, who has been to the range for her photography class, said.

However, students are advised to be cautious when approaching the shooting range.

Near the shooting range is a bomb shelter under Rugby, which was built in 1962 amid Cold War era fears.

“People were afraid of nuclear war, but I don’t know how this would have protected people from nuclear weapons,” archivist Allan Sasaki said.

The bomb shelter is now used to store items belonging to the Performing Arts department and the cafeteria. Sarah McAllister ‘15 occasionally goes inside the bomb shelter when she is preparing for Jazz concert rehearsals.

“The bomb shelter is like a hipster café because it’s this old place that now has misfit cool props and things,” McAllister said.

Above the bomb shelter is Rugby Tower, which has a deep history of its own.

The tower was used to connect the 18th hole of the Hollywood Country Club and the clubhouse before the school bought the golf course in 1937.

Before 1960, the tower had an elevator, and the landings were once used as temporary dormitories for Harvard School. A few decades ago, the tower was called the “senior tower” since only seniors were allowed to use it.

“When alumni from the 1950s come to visit the school, one of the only things they recognize about the campus is Rugby Tower,” Sasaki said.

While Rugby Tower is an almost intact structure from the Hollywood Country Club, remnants of the golf course can be seen throughout the campus.

The shale used to create the waterfall opposite of second floor Seaver was originally from stone pathways in the country club.

Frank Hedge, the previous head of maintenance, built the waterfall in the late 1980s to increase the aesthetic appeal of the hillside.

Behind the waterfall, situated on top of the hillside, is the Business Office.

To get to the Business Office from the  second floor Seaver, faculty members must travel multiple flights of stairs.

“We’re all in good shape because we climb so many stairs,” Business Manager David Weil ’93 said.

Since the Business Office is on the hillside, some faculty members feel removed from the rest of the campus.

“The joy of being in a school is being in the hubbub,” Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin said. “The view out of the mountains is great, it’s removed.”

Originally, the Business Office was the residence of Headmaster Christopher Berrisford, who was at Harvard School from 1969 to 1987. Berrisford’s daughter Sarah accidentally got her head stuck between the rails, and the maintenance crew had to remove the rail and have not replaced it since.

After Berrisford’s residence was converted into office space, the building was dedicated to Frank Alvarez, senior controller from 1961 to 1997.

Another part of campus students may not be familiar with is the darkroom on the second floor of Seaver, which is primarily used by Sasaki.

In 1984, Sasaki noticed that the room, originally used by the custodians, appeared to be a suitable location for a darkroom because it had a sink with running water.

After receiving permission from maintenance, Sasaki converted the room to print black and white pictures that were  used for yearbooks, the Harvard News and other publications.

“It seems that Harvard never had a photography program,” Sasaki said. “Starting in the early 80s, I would have students come and ask me for photo lessons.”

Some students, such as Conor Cook ’13, have used Sasaki’s darkroom to learn different methods of photo printing.

Behind Ahmanson Theatre is a small office space surrounded by black metal barricades. Originally built to protect expensive telescopes, the space was converted two years ago to house performing arts teacher Ted Walch’s DVDs for Cinema Studies. A sign with the name “Vault of Dreams” hangs prominently over the door.

Over the years, the Vault of Dreams became more crowded with memorabilia, ranging from lamps to gnomes, donated by former students.

“Being a natural packrat, I brought my own books and rugs from home,” Walch said, referring to his intricately patterned rugs covering the floor.

A Keuring machine is available to his Cinema Studies students to make coffee and hot chocolate. They can also rent DVDs.

“Each year I lose eight to nine DVDs, but I think that’s a very little cost,” Walch said. “Sometimes I get DVDs in the mail from alumni.”

The name “Vault of Dreams” was suggested by Austin Park ’10. Park was in the same Directed Studies in Cinema class as Brendan Kutler ’10.

When Kutler died, Park took over Kutler’s project on filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and presented his project at the end of the year to a group of students and parents.

“It was one of the best experiences I had as a teacher,” Walch said. “Whenever I come here, I think of Austin Park and Brendan Kutler.”