Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night could keep more than 100 people from gathering in Connecticut Hall Friday.
In celebration of Yale’s 300th birthday, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postal card at a ceremony Friday featuring a picture of Connecticut Hall, the oldest building at Yale and in New Haven. At the ceremony, the United Nations also issued a commemorative cancellation with pictures of Harkness Tower, the United Nations headquarters building in New York and Yale’s tercentennial logo.
At the unveiling, Yale President Richard Levin said the commemorative postal card and the cancellation — the dated ink stamp the post office impresses on postage stamps — capture many of Yale’s tercentennial goals.
“This celebrates our connection to New Haven, our home, and Connecticut,” Levin said. “[It] reminds us of our history and increases our legacy for service around the world.”
University Secretary Linda Lorimer began the ceremony by describing how she learned about the world through stamp collecting.
“It brings me pleasure to know that in coming months, Connecticut Hall and Yale will be brought to attention [through stamp collecting],” Lorimer said.
Alexander Lazaroff, the USPS’s lead executive and Connecticut district manager, presided over the ceremony, introducing speakers Levin, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and C. Douglas Lewis ’60, the vice chairman of the USPS Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee and curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Also in attendance were U.N. Postal Administration Chief Anthony Fouracre and New Haven Postmaster Denise Porter.
DeStefano said he was especially happy about the postal card because he collects antique postal cards of New Haven.
“This is a window into the community of relationships, experience, innovation and people,” DeStefano said. “It’s a wonderful time to look back and look forward.”
Lewis discussed the history of the building.
“Connecticut Hall, built in 1750, is a direct and obvious derivation of Harvard’s Massachusetts Hall with a more utilitarian style,” Lewis said.
Lewis also said that both buildings’ interiors have been rebuilt four times — Connecticut Hall most recently in 1952, when it was reinforced with steel.
After unveiling the design of the new postal card, John F. Walsh, a member of the USPS Board of Governors, presented framed enlarged versions of the card to Levin, U.N. Undersecretary-General Joseph Verner Reed ’61 and Lewis.
Reed said that this dedication was only the second time that the USPS and U.N. joined forces in a dedication, the other time being for Beijing University’s centennial in 1998.
“[I am] filled with emotion,” Reed said. “I attended classes in this very hall. I lived in Bingham [Hall]; my father lived in Vanderbilt [Hall]. It’s a special honor for me to participate in this dedication ceremony.”
Reed then described the cancellation design as a “symbol of the international character of Yale and the U.N. Harkness and the special anniversary logo were a natural choice as a landmark for the Yale campus and beacon for the educational world.”
Levin wrote notes to President George W. Bush ’68 and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the new postal cards, which Reed and Walsh cancelled with the special U.N. cancellation stamp.
A New Haven letter carrier then picked up the postal cards, put them in his mailbag, and took them to the post office to be delivered.
The Connecticut Hall stamped postal cards are available in post offices across the country.