The Best... Place to Kiss

Photograph by Marcie Giovannoni

Former University president Prince Lucien Campbell lent his name to campus’s most ill matched set of sites. The first is hard to miss. At eight stories, PLC Hall is both the tallest and the ugliest building on campus. Thankfully, bordering the other side of the lawn from this ode to utilitarian efficiency is a spot far more charming. Here, in the Prince Lucien Campbell Memorial Courtyard, any pair of lovebirds can hope to find a roost.

The courtyard is nestled at the center of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, an institution Prince Lucien Campbell, the man, championed during his years as University president (1902–25). Campbell did not live to see the opening of the museum in 1933, but the courtyard bearing his name would have won the love of this patron of the arts.

Despite its location off the museum lobby, the courtyard is easy to miss, hidden as it is behind two large and heavy doors. Once inside this oasis, it is even easier to forget you’re at the heart of a busy university. Although it has no roof and is open to the world, all outside noise somehow seems to evaporate along its column-lined corridors. Lush green plants caress the central reflecting pool at the head of which kneel two stone musicians. Perhaps the pair, reminiscent as they are of mischievous fairies and fawns, once flitted through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Behind their kneeling figures rises a small cupola glowing with gold tile. It’s a breathtaking surprise hidden from view until one takes the time to wander all the way down the courtyard.

Beneath this golden dome many a couple can be imagined to have stolen a kiss. Far from the watchful gaze of resident assistants, professors, and parents, the only witness to young love is Prince Lucien Campbell. The president’s stone bust watches over this testament to romance, hidden as it is in the shadow of PLC.

By Elisabeth Kramer '12

Elisabeth Kramer is a journalism major in the Robert D. Clark Honors College.