From the Archives: Table Matters

eating_clubBy Diane Shaw, College Archivist, and Elaine Stomber ’89, Associate College Archivist

The Early Years

In 1832, Lafayette opens and operates on the manual labor model. Students haul manure, dig potatoes, and harvest corn, oats, wheat, and rye. The third annual report of the College notes the need for more grazing land for milk cows so the College can have a ready supply of milk and butter. Board is $1.50 per week unless a student eats at the cheap table, which is $1.25 per week.

The Gilded Age

By 1879, students dine in Eating Clubs. By 1910, the majority of eating options are at fraternity houses equipped with modern kitchens and elegantly furnished formal dining rooms. White linen tablecloths and formal table settings are the norm for all meals. Cooks are hired by each fraternity to plan menus, order food, and prepare meals. Because the majority of students join fraternities and participate in meal plans, there is little need for the College to provide any other dining options for students.

Mid-20th Century

In the 1950s, the College Inn moves to the basement of Hogg Hall. The Inn offers limited food service, but the majority of students continue to dine at fraternity chapter houses.

In 1960, the construction of Marquis Hall with a modern cafeteria (right) enables the College to offer meal plans outside fraternity houses
to first-year students and independents.

The Era of the Modern Meal Plan

Coeducation in 1970 increases the student population to 2,000, and additional meal plan opportunities are needed. The Leopard’s Lair snack bar opens in the 1980s in the basement of Marquis Hall.

Farinon Center opens in 1991 as a model of the new college cafeteria, featuring self-service areas and food stations.