The story of the Aggie Inn is not one that is easily uncovered. An undated photograph that carries the caption, “Aggie Inn and Post Office,” shows a barn-like building and an old clear-globed gas pump. A jalopy which dates the photo between the 1890's and 1920's sits between the building and the pump. There is some information about the Inn as a restaurant. However, a review of M.A.C.'s Trustees minutes, handbooks, yearbooks, student newspapers and general histories reveals little about the building as a gas station.
Amherst’s 1917 resident directory lists Philip Babcock as a student and manager of Ye Aggie Inn. The directory lists other employees, and the address of the Inn as 103 Pleasant. The Aggie Inn was an important part of student life in the early twentieth century. The 1921 student handbook describes the Aggie Inn as “a favorite rush eating house.'” That the Inn was a favorite is not readily apparent in all cases. The short-lived student newspapers of M.A.C. and the yearbooks are useful sources for finding information about Ye Aggie Inn. The Squib for the years 1915-17, contain a considerable amount of information about the Aggie Inn. One ad in the Squib reads:“Ye Aggie Inn”“Everything is so Tasty” Student supplies of all kinds in our store. Ingersol Watches in Celluloid Cases $1.00.
Another advertisement in the paper noted that the Squib was available for sale in Amherst at “Adam's Drug Store, Aggie Inn, College Drug Store, Hastings and the College Store.” Kollege Kandy Kitchen advertised in the Squib that their home-made ice cream was sold at the Aggie Inn; this ad mentioned that the Aggie Inn was located across from city hall.
That the ice cream is mentioned is interesting when compared to the poetic sentiments of a group of contributing students, which shows that not everyone felt the same fond regard for the Aggie Inn:"How we miss thee, old Dog-cartWithout thee now the place is bare;Though many others do upstart,Like Aggie Inn, now standing there....And now- I sit down to a tableand eat what now, as best I'm able......The Chicken dinners to me have no taste,The weakly ice cream is a weakly waste..."
Apparently, some students felt that the Aggie Inn was more of an upstart than a restaurant, with a “weary bill of fare.”
The student handbook, The Index for the class of 1929, describes the Inn more positively, as “An Ideal Place to Eat, Owned and Operated by Students and Aggie Men.” That the Inn was owned and operated by students and Aggie men may evidence an attempt to create an alternative to the college's boarding offerings after 1903. The Inn was also described as having all sorts of items for sale: “Student supplies of all kinds sold there including Banners, Pillows, Pennants, Candy, Cigarettes, and Tobacco.” Page 80 of the Index has a captivating poem about one Roger Thomas Hintze:“Then here's to our Jolly RogerThe pirate of “Ye Aggie Inn”;--The way that he captures our shekelsIs nothing much less than a sin.”
It is not clear if Roger was a manager at the Inn or not, but being labeled a pirate who captured shekels indicates that he took students' money more or less against their will, perhaps for their lack of a better place to dine, or by charging high prices. The Dog-Cart poem seems to indicate that Aggie Inn was an 'upstart', and not original to the area it serviced. The title of the poem also begs the question if the Inn was the Hash House commonly referred to throughout various student publications. If so, it was the scene of many student revelries and romps. However, much remains to be discovered about the history of the structure itself, including exactly when the structure was built, and its connection to the gas pump pictured in the image.
- Date Added
- December 6, 2012
- Item Type
- Still Image
- “Aggie Inn,” Lost UMass, accessed May 22, 2018, http://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/69.