As we have highlighted in previous Throwback Thursdays, RIT has a tendency to adorn the campus with beautiful, timeless art. Some pieces of art on campus are majestic and grandiose like the “Sentinel” by Albert Paley or “Growth” by Joseph Albers, yet some are often overlooked by those who aren’t necessarily seeking them out. In Global Village, there are some hidden gems that have deep roots in RIT history.
RIT’s previous Eastman Building was located on the corner of South Plymouth Avenue and Spring Street in Downtown Rochester. This magnificent building was generously funded by George Eastman himself in 1906 through a $225,000 donation. If you look closely at this picture of the interior of the building provided by the RIT Archives Collections, you’ll notice some very unique newel posts installed at the top and foot of the staircase. They stand about 3 feet above the ground, and if you look closely you’ll see they have the letters R, A, M and I engraved in the iron. Can you guess what that stands for? If you can recall, Rochester Institute of Technology hasn’t always been our name. RIT traces its roots back to two institutions: the Rochester Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institute, which merged in 1891 and changed the name to RIT in 1944.
Thankfully the posts survived the move from Downtown to Henrietta and still accompany us to this day. Currently there are six on campus and they are all located in Global Village, where you wouldn’t expect such antique pieces to be hidden in plain sight. It’s not too hard to spot them if you know what you’re looking for!