Tri-Co travelers may have seen Haverford’s Sharpless Hall. Does that have anything to do with our Sharples? Which came first?
Haverford’s Isaac Sharpless was a professor of math and astronomy and served as president of the college from 1887 to 1917. According to an article on building names in the Bi-Co News, he advocated for Haverford to remain a small liberal arts college in a time when many of the college’s peer institutions were transforming themselves into large research universities. He is the namesake of Sharpless Hall, the home of most of Haverford’s biology and psychology departments, and also of the science library. The building was completed in 1916, just before Sharpless’s retirement.
Swarthmore’s Sharples is a considerably more recent structure, completed in 1964. Its namesake is Swat alum and “father of industrial dairy farming” Philip Sharples, who was, as far as we could ascertain, no relation of Isaac Sharpless. Sharples gave the college $1.2 million dollars for its construction (the building cost $1.35 million). Sharples is probably best known among the agriculturally inclined as the inventor of the Sharples Tubular Cream Separator.
A short article in the June 17, 1963 New York Times notes the groundbreaking and describes the dining hall: “a capacity to serve 600 persons in three dining rooms of various sizes… plans include a center court with a large fireplace, where after-dinner coffee may be served, several smaller lounges, and a paved terrace that may be used for dancing.” SAC, take note!