Honoring the Past

"Take Counsel Here of Wisdom Beauty Power," Entrance to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

Henry Mitchell MacCracken, extremely passionate about history and civic duty, believed that Americans needed a place to honor great and influential figures from the past. Influenced by the Rumshalle (hall of fame) in Germany,  the Chancellor pictured a pantheon where Americans could pay tribute to those who left their mark on America. MacCracken’s vision would become a reality and be dubbed the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, the first Hall of Fame ever built in the United States.

The colonnade during construction, 1900.

The Hall of Fame hid the unsightly high foundation walls created by placing the Gould Memorial Library on such a high elevation.

Stanford White designed a 630-foot long colonnade to surround the Gould Memorial Library and exhibit bronze busts of the inductees. The Hall of Fame became central to the campus, a major tourist spot in the Bronx and a national shrine.

Page 2 of nominee card for the 1905 induction year.

Page 1 of nominee card for the 1905 induction year. A list of the 1900 class is included.

Elections took place every five years and candidates had to be a born or naturalized American citizen and deceased for at least 25 years (from 1900-1922 it was only 10). Various nominee classifications included politicians, scientists, authors, soldiers, inventors and a number of other professions.The nominations were open to the public but an election committee of prominent intellectuals, politicians and socialites would select that years inductees.


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