On April 25, 1912, on a prominent hill on the undeveloped campus of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, a cornerstone was put in place for a new building. Designed in a Beaux-Artsstyle by famed architect Henry Hornbostle, the building was destined to be the eastern anchor of a quadrangle of academic buildings. It was designated the College of Fine Arts.
In what would become a characteristic of all future College of Fine Arts inhabitants, the students of the day didn’t let the cornerstone-laying for their new building go unheralded. A grand pageant was arranged, and judging by the surviving photographs of the event, the young marchers were resplendent in costumes that corresponded to different periods of art. They were also effusive in their praise of their new home, and overflowing with hope for the future:
Well may we hold a pageant to herald our new building, the home of art instruction in this smoky city. Nay, even more! The citadel of art for miles around…Aye, splendid it was in every sense of the word. Not a temporary thing, of limited duration, but to last for all eternity. Hereafter shall we hear it talked of resurrected when all other show and tinsel are forgotten. Long live the memory of the pageant, and long life to the school that it presages.
That same year, the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music was inaugurated as a new department in the College. But its birth pageantry was in short supply. From the 1913 yearbook, Thistle:
Immediately after Christmas, doleful, hideous and discordant sounds began to issue forth from certain part of the building, and upon investigation it was found that these sounds were proceeding from the new School of Music. This new department took us by surprise. We did not know they were coming until they were here. Although we are not acquainted with many of them, we are glad they are here...
Those doleful, discordant sounds were thankfully short-lived, replaced by sounds consonant and beautiful. Now, 100 years on, the School of Music has grown into a remarkable, vibrant place that is host to gifted musicians and wonderful teachers, with memorable performances aplenty.