Posted by: Diane Holliday | February 20, 2009

The Hunt Room

Back when the Vanderbilt’s lived in the mansion the Hunt Room was the Dining Room. It still is one of the most intimidating rooms on campus.

View of Hunt Room from 1970 Yearbook

View of Hunt Room from 1970 Yearbook

Today of course, Karl Bitter‘s life size statue of Diana (more about her in a moment), the beautiful green marble fireplace, and the circassian walnut paneling dominate the room, but back in the 1960’s – when the College was founded, the room also featured wonderful plaster friezes above the paneling.

The Plaster Friezes

Hunt Room Frieze

Hunt Room Frieze

These friezes, also by Karl Bitter, told the story of a hunt:

“At the beginning of the frieze, ladies gaily waved good-bye to hunters off for their prey. Later panels showed the actual hunt, and finally the sportsmen returning with their trophies of the day.”

Idle Hour: The Mansion and Its History. NY: Laurel Publications. p.11.

These plaster friezes were lost in the 1974 fire. If you have memories, impressions, or pictures of the friezes, we would love to hear from you.

Diana, Goddess of the Hunt

The statue of Diana has some interesting stories associated with her.

Statue of Diana, 1903

Statue of Diana, 1903

Above is a 1903 photo showing her right hand missing. (She was restored in 1995. ) Some of the folk lore associated with Diana is that her hand was damaged in the 1974 fire. Others say she was damaged way before that fire, and that the gangster, Dutch Schultz, who is said to have hid in Idle Hour during Prohibition, shot her hand off with a gun. It is said he did not like Diana pointing her bow into the room. Some say he felt Diana was aiming at him!

If you have recollections and or pictures of Diana in the 1960’s we would love to hear from you. It would be reassuring to know whether she had her left arm in the 1960’s and if she did, was she holding the bow?

The Hidden Doors

If you face the fireplace and statue of Diana, immediately to each side, you may notice hidden doors. One is still in use and leads to the caterer’s pantry. The other, is now permanently closed. We wonder if in the 1960’s this door was in use? If so, where did it lead to?

Again, we would love to hear from you about any memories you might have about the Hunt Room while you were a student here. Not only are we interested in your memories of the architectural details, but also your memories of classes or campus happenings held here.

View a slideshow of the Hunt Room through the years.



  1. […] recently wrote a post about the Hunt Room at Idle Hour for Born in the Sixties (another blog I contribute to) and I thought I would cross post it here.  […]

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