One day in the Summer of 1930 a horse hauled a wooden building from its familiar site on Divinity Avenue, and dumped it off across the street. Sixteen years after this transplanting, that building became the Modern Language Center.
The building was purchased by the University in 1896 along with the property on which the Germanic Museum now stands. The building soon came to be called Cannon House, after the late Walter B. Cannon, '96, professor of Physiology, who occupied it for 30 years. It was moved by horse in 1930 to make way for the Institute of Geographical Exploration. Since 1942 Cannon House has been home to such organizations as the School for Overseas Administration, which trained men in such languages as Chinese and Japanese, a group of chaplains, a fraternity, and-an International House for students.
The Modern Language Center was founded by William Berrien, professor of Romance Languages and Literature. Berrien was Chairman of the Center's administrative committee from its start in 1946 to last year. Harry Levin, professor of Comparative Literature, took over the chairmanship in November. The rest of the administrative committee is composed of representatives from the different language departments.
Anthony L. Pellegrini, '43, Resident Tutor of the Center, and his wife, who acts as secretary, actually integrate the Center's activities. They have been at the Center since last August. Pellegrini, a teaching fellow in Italian, went into the Army in 1943, when he graduated from Harvard. As he already knew French and Italian, the Army taught him German, and sent him into France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia as an interpretor. After a subsequent stay in Japan, Pellegrini returned to Harvard in 1946.
The first floor of the center contains a clum meeting room, a dining room, and Mrs. Pellegrini's office, all furnished with pieces donated by or on permanent loan from members of the Faculty, the Fogg Museum, and various friends.
The second floor includes rooms devoted to particular languages--Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Slavic, and each room has a library of books in its respective language.
Although it operates on a tight budget, the Center has acquired a total of between 5,000 and 6,000 books through donations and loans in a little over six years of existence. In addition it has two tape records and three sound scribers which students find invaluable in perfecting their pronounciation of a language. There is also a collection of 1,500 records and four phonographs. The majority of the records are musical, particularly South and Latin American, but the most used are the ones that teach a language.
Clubs Meet at Center
Perhaps the most important function of the Modern Language Center is as a meeting place for various language and literature organizations of the University. Clubs using the Center are the Club Hispaico, the Cihrcolo Italiano, the German Literary Conference, the Comparative Literature Group, the Linguistics Club, the Slavic Society, and Luno-Brazilian Club