Kirtland Hall

Kirtland Cutter's surprising Yale connection

A rich lady's wish comes true

The name Kirtland Cutter is important in the history of Spokane, yet few know of his history in Connecticut. Cutter’s great grandfather, Jared Potter Kirtland, became the first medical student enrolled at Yale at the time the School of Medicine opened in 1813.

After graduation, Dr. Kirtland practiced medicine throughout Connecticut until 1823, when his wife died and he moved to Ohio. During his life, Dr. Cutter also developed an interest in natural history and assisted in the first geographical survey of Ohio. As a naturalist, he passed his beliefs through his family, which is evident in Cutter’s architectural designs and of Doctor Kirtland’s remembrance at Yale University.

In the early 20th century, Lucy Boardman, a philanthropist and niece of Dr. Kirtland, not only donated funds for scholarships at Yale, but also donated a building, Kirtland Hall. The building, built in 1902, housed the Geology Department and became an integral part of the Sheffield Scientific School.

The architect of the project was none other than Spokane’s famous architect, Kirtland Kelsey Cutter. In respect to his ancestor as well as the donor of the project, Cutter mimicked the structural design of the home that Boardman grew up in, but constructed it out of local brownstone, instead of importing limestone as the fashion had been. The different building material visibly separates Kirtland Hall from the rest of the Yale campus, while the players illustrate the importance of familial ties.