Frick Chemical Laboratory

Frick Chemical Laboratory was built in 1929 and named for Pittsburgh steelmaker Henry Clay Frick. His interest in the University had been cultivated originally by Dean West, who persuaded him to give the Graduate College the Procter Hall organ. In 1916 Frick expressed an interest in helping start a law school at Princeton, but agreed instead to give a chemical laboratory when President Hibben told him how urgently one was needed. Plans were drawn up, but Frick was appalled by the estimated cost of $1 million, which he thought due to inflated steel prices; the building was accordingly postponed.

Frick died in 1919, leaving almost $6 million to Princeton for its unrestricted use. All of his benefaction was used for endowment of faculty salaries, then badly needed, and it was not until late in the twenties that funds for the new laboratory became available through the Princeton University Fund. When the laboratory was completed in 1929, at a cost of $1,840,000, the trustees, mindful of Frick's earlier interest and his subsequent bequest, voted to name it for him.

Designed by Charles Z. Klauder, and constructed at the corner of Washington Road and William Street, the three-story building contains undergraduate laboratories, lecture rooms, faculty offices, and many research laboratories. A new wing at the rear, designed by O'Connor and Kilham, was completed in 1964 at a cost of $2 million, doubling the space available for research. It was made possible by an anonymous $1 million gift, supplemented by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and other gifts. A $3 million renovation program, completed in 1975, brought substantial modernization. Funds for this purpose were contributed through the University's $125 million development program by the Kresge Foundation, the Haas Community Fund, and other donors.

On the second floor of the original building, above the entrance hall, is the chemistry library. Over a fireplace is inscribed a Latin version of a quotation from Ptolemy with which Dean Taylor ended his address at the dedication of Frick in 1929: NON EST MORTVVS QUI SCIENTIAM VIVIFICAVIT (He is not dead who has made knowledge live).


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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