WHO IS THAT GUY? GENERAL ALEXANDER WEBB

by Kevin Walsh

CONVENT Avenue in Manhattanville is named for the former campus of the Catholic Society of the Sacred Heart, which once stood between Convent Avenue and St. Nicholas Terrace between West 130-135th Streets, since replaced by the City College campus. The avenue cleaves through the center of the campus.

CCNY’s Shepard Hall is the anchor building of the campus, occupying a plot between Convent Avenue, St. Nicholas Terrace and West 140th Street. It is anchor-shaped with two wings proceeding from a central section. The 185′ x 89′ x 63′ Great Hall, which can host over 1,000 people, is the centerpiece of Shepard Hall and is dominated by twelve massive columns and Gothic peaked windows. Shepard Hall hosts CCNY’s Schools of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, the Department of Humanities, a music library, the college’s alumni association as well as several other offices.

General Alexander Webb (1835-1911) was a West Point graduate and played a central role in the Union victory at Gettysburg. The statue honoring him at Convent Avenue at Shepherd Hall, sculpted by J. Massey Rhind, is a copy of the one that stands at Gettysburg. After the war, Webb was an educator at West Point and became the second President of CCNY in 1869, serving in that post for 33 years.

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7/12/21

6 comments

Alan July 13, 2021 - 10:23 am

My alma mater (Class of ’73). Shepard Hall and the three buildings directly across Convent Av. are all in the same architectural style. The original buildings at this location, after the college moved here from midtown. Fun fact: A small part of “Love Story” was filmed in that building. I was there on the day of filming.

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therealguyfaux July 13, 2021 - 4:03 pm

Curious whether he’s the “Webb” of Webb Avenue in The Bronx, adjacent to the VA Hospital?

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Kevin Walsh July 15, 2021 - 8:26 am

Different Webb.

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Don Gilligan July 13, 2021 - 9:31 pm

In the late 50s and early 60s General Webb stood guard on his pedestal with an empty scabbard on his left hip and the hilt of his sword in his right hand. Only the hilt in his hand as the sword’s blade was missing, courtesy no doubt of one of the fraternities at the school. Once a year, very late at night, General Webb would dismount his pedestal and wander about the campus in search of his missing sword blade. He would leave a trail of footprints whose color matched his patina coating as evidence of his wandering. He never found his blade. However, some time in the not too distant past he became the recipient of a restoration. His patina was removed and a new sword blade installed. I thought theGeneral’s wanderings a charming tradition. So much for tradition.

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Andy July 14, 2021 - 9:38 am

City College of New York (CCNY) is actually two separate campuses. The North Campus (between 135th and 140th Streets) was constructed in the early 20th century to permit CCNY to expand beyond its original location at 26th Street and Fourth Ave. (now the Baruch College site). Shepard Hall is one of a series of early CCNY buildings that are faced with Manhattan schist, the dark rock on its exterior. The rock was excavated when the nearby IRT subway was built under Broadway in 1900-1904 and included the 137th Street-CCNY stop. The South Campus, between 130th and 135th Streets, did not become CCNY property until 1952, when the Catholic Society of the Sacred Heart and its associated Manhattanville College relocated to Purchase, New York. I’m not a CCNY grad, but my wife holds both BA and MA degrees from CCNY.

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CSF July 15, 2021 - 1:42 pm

I was a graduate of the CCNY Architectural School class of ’90. The original CCNY SoA was housed in a former parking garage on Broadway and 132rd St (+/-) before it moved to Sheprad hall in ’84. The architectural programs have since moved to a new building at South Campus at Convent and 135th St. (Spitzer Bldg) ‘2015. Around ’88 they filmed parts of the movie “Reversal of Fortune” the strory about Claus and Sunny Von Bulow. They were replicating Alan Dershowtz’s law class at Harvard. At the time of my attendance there the entrance for the “Sand Hogs”
building the “new” water supply tunnel was at 135th and Convent. It is one of the nicer CUNY campuses. IMO.

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