The Living Village is part of Yale Divinity School at Yale University, situated in New Haven, Connecticut. Located in southern New England, New Haven has hot, humid summers and cool to cold winters.
How Sterling Divinity Quadrangle came to be built can be traced to the early 1920s, the historic decade-long building boom that transformed Yale between 1922 and 1932, thanks to the vast John Sterling bequest. …The architectural firm Delano and Aldrich was recruited to design a new divinity quad. William Adams Delano (1895 BA) had already produced Yale’s Wright Hall, William L. Harkness Hall, and, in 1911, the YDS Day Missions Library. In 1930, Delano submitted a blueprint for a new YDS quad, but very soon it became clear that the location—the southwest corner of Hillhouse Avenue and Sachem Street—would be too small for the School’s projected growth.
A few months later, the University received fateful news: Thomas Gray Bennett (1870 PhB), owner of a large estate on Prospect Street, had died, and the property was now available. He was a son-in-law of Oliver Winchester, former head of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, the firearms manufacturer, in New Haven.
Acquiring the Prospect Street tract would give the Divinity School the room it needed in a beautiful setting at a New Haven geographical high point, despite some faculty concern that the new location, a mile from the downtown campus, was a formidable distance. With the new location secured, the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle was drawn up by Delano, inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s design of the University of Virginia. In decisive ways, it differed from Jefferson’s secular “academical village.”
Foremost in the new Quad design was its religious identity: the prominence of Marquand Chapel and its steeple declared the centrality of faith, theology, and worship. As Dean Gregory E. Sterling later described it: “UV A had the library at the center. We have Marquand, a striking symbolic difference. At present the main entrance to the library is directly beneath Marquand. We have intellect on the ground floor and faith above it, a relationship that captures the essence of the School.”
Setting the new building high on Prospect also honored a revered New England spiritual trope—“a city set on a hill cannot be hid,” from Matthew 5:14. “In Georgian Colonial, a style simple and functional,” historian Bainton would write, “dormitories were provided for the unmarried men and buildings for administration and teaching in addition to a refectory, gymnasium, library, and a chapel chaste and worshipful.”