Exterminator – John B. Smith Hall

Oftentimes, we take our surroundings for granted. It isn’t until they are destroyed that we look back and wish we could have appreciated them more. John B. Smith Hall in New Brunswick was one of those locations. The first time I every really took a good look at the seemingly misplaced building behind Douglass Campus on Georges Road was when they were dismantling it. The first time I every really bothered to research the contents of the building was after it was too late to ever go back. The building that housed the Department of Entomology was a little-known museum of rare insects and bugs. The Department moved there in 1937, but the building was much older, the former headquarters of “Reckitt’s Blue”, a supplier of laundry bluing. The enormous collection of every species of moth, every species of butterfly, and an abundance of other insects. Since the building was not large enough to contain the entire collection, many displays were moved and housed by the Museum of Natural History in New York. Until its closing and recent destruction, John B. Smith Hall held over 200,000 insects. As mentioned, all of these facts were learned after the building had been taken down. Its significance was only learned as an afterthought. The question that remains is why did the building shut down? Although it looked to be misplaced, since there were no other classroom buildings around, it did withstand the test of time. Please contact Rutgers Rarities with any information about the former John B. Smith Hall. There may be more to this than there seems.

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