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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Vintage Harvard

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Here's something even the most observant Harvard students may not have spotted. "When Lowell House was about to be named, a couple of people working with Mr. Lowell naturally wanted Lowell House named for him," Perkins says. "Lowell said he wanted nothing to do with it, and they weren't going to have anything to do with it either," Perkins says. "Lowell was willing to accept the propriety of naming it for the Lowell family which had been close to Harvard since the 18th century. But then House master Julian Coolidge on his own got hold of the right people." Above the iron work in the main gate, he weaved, very covertly, the initials 'ALL" for President Abbott Lawrence Lowell. All the time he never dared asked Lowell if he noticed it. (Of course, Perkins adds parenthetically, Lowell must have noticed it because he noticed everything.) "Mr. Lowell was perfectly capable of having the initials removed." But he never did and they remain there today.

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