In the spring of 1995, I started posting webpages on a server where I had space as a student. Some of the pages had observations on Dartmouth architecture. This is an example:
After graduating, I put up some of the information on a new server (I think it was at alaska.net) and titled the collection “DArch.” The name came from a manila folder that held a few clippings related to Dartmouth architecture. I compiled notes on all the buildings I could learn about and put up what I called notes toward a catalog of Dartmouth buildings during December of 1995.
Versions of the site from the fall of 1999, winter of 2002, and fall of 2003 (all originally at meachams.com) show a search for a standard identity as the site became more bloglike:
I had no good answer to the question of how to pronounce the name “DArch,” and so I renamed the site “Dartmo.” in 2003 and gave it its own domain name.
Throughout I have tried to keep up a slow pace of posting bits of information about Dartmouth that I find interesting. The original posts were dated vaguely and posted in sequence by hand on two or three long web pages. After weblogs became popular, I turned each of the original posts into a blog post and gave it an arbitrary sequential date within a month of its actual posting.
The site kept a standard appearance from February of 2005 until April of 2010, when the effort of maintaining the site’s idiosyncracies within WordPress became too much of a hassle:
Over the years the site has been cited, plagiarized, hacked, and infringed upon. The most popular element has been the “Notes toward a Catalog,” which was mostly written in 1995. It is now outdated, poorly-formatted, somewhat error-ridden, and largely supplanted by other sources. I would get rid of it if it weren’t linked by outside sites. The Campus Guide in print or on Google Books is a better source in most cases.
The best way to pull in information seems to be to put out information, and the site has helped a great deal with both the Campus Guide (2008) and the ongoing Lamb & Rich monograph. Great information has come from a large number of people, especially Hanover-area residents not connected with the college. In fact the college has been fairly quiet: I have always hoped for scoops but cannot recall getting any. Once, a few years ago, the development office even started sending corrections through a third party. Dear Development Office: Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. Please send your corrections (and scoops) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s in the future? I expect to cut back even more on posting and devote more time to the book. The growth of the Web, particularly the advent of on-line construction press releases and newspaper articles, has made this site generic and untimely. I am still collecting information for a general encyclopedia along the lines of The Encyclopedia of South Carolina or The Encyclopedia of Chicago, but again that would be in print instead of on line. These days it is difficult to imagine the scale of the campus expansion that took place or was planned during the early 2000s, but if the pace of construction were to pick up again in Hanover, the news might be too interesting not to write about.
[Update 11.11.2012: Three sentences reworded slightly for clarity.]
[Update 03.19.2012: Two sentences reworded slightly.]
[Update 01.22.2011: Domain name info added.]