Entry. The main entrance to Branford Dining Hall is on York Street between Elm and Chapel. There, a slate walk leads to a large iron gate with “James Pierpont” carved into its stone arch. After entering you walk into the Great Courtyard and turn left at the large tree from which hangs Branford’s historical garden swing. There, inside a large wooden door, you’ll walk up a single flight of stairs to the second floor, where you’ll enter the dining room. Branford’s large, vaulted hall runs parallel to York Street and is anchored on one side with a 15th century Burgundian fireplace.
History and Traditions. Constructed between 1917 and 1922, Branford College was part of the original Memorial Quadrangle complex built when Yale adopted the Residential College system. It was modeled after the Gothic structures of Oxford University in England and was named after the town where Yale’s predecessor “Collegiate School” was founded. (The 10 books shown in Branford’s Coat of Arms represent the 10 ministers who pooled their books and resources to found that school). Among the flagstones of Branford Court is an old millstone delivered from the town of Branford when the Quadrangle was constructed.
Harkness Tower, which stands nearby and overlooks Branford, was one of the largest freestanding structures ever built before it was reinforced with steel in 1981. Its ornate stone carvings include statues of many historical campus figures and graduates, including Elihu Yale. Near its peak are likenesses of the four great Western poets: Homer, Vergil, Dante and Shakespeare.
“We ate here.” Notable Branford alumni include Nobel Prize in Medicine laureate James Rothman, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and noted philanthropist and civil rights advocate Maxim Thorne.