Old Barrows and Lloyd

[Originally posted on April 22, 2004]

Old Barrows is an Oberlin College co-op dorm, a mansion built in 1901 by the then President Barrows of Oberlin. It is a pretentious pile (my opinion, not shared by at least some of the students who have lived there!) with columns across the front like a southern plantation house. I have sometimes claimed that when Jane and I were Oberlin students 1955-62 it was called “Middle Aged Barrows”, but am generally met with disbelief when I say this…

In the late nineties, our once a week evening shape note singing group met regularly in Old Barrows in a downstairs parlor with bare floors and walls that sounded quite good. That is where we sang from Sacred Harp and Northern Harmony, and sang for the first time many of the songs by David Wright and Chandler York that later made it into Oberlin Harmony – including David’s excellent fuguing tune called Old Barrows (
Oberlin Harmony, page 86).

The Oberlin dorms are generally supposed to be kept locked, but every student had a key card that opened every dorm. One of our singers in those days lived in Oberlin but was not a student. He loved Lloyd (
1991 Sacred Harp page 503), but did not have time to stay very long to sing. He got into the habit of showing up a few minutes before we were supposed to quit, climbing in a window, and calling Lloyd and singing it with immense enjoyment. I will always regard Lloyd as his song!


Charles Wells