Pedestrian mall is a legacy

A pedestrian mall was on Cornell’s wish list for many years. The old blacktop walkway was not adequate for a National Register campus, and telephone poles and wires obscured the views on campus.

Marie Fletcher Carter Marie Fletcher Carter

Then in 2001, Marie Fletcher Carter was asked to consider a gift to allow the college to construct a 16-foot-wide brick path through campus and bury wiring on the Hilltop. The Marie Fletcher Carter Pedestrian Mall was dedicated in 2003. Her $1.5 million gift connected the entire campus in a way that more accurately reflected the quality of Cornell. The new campus master plan embraces the mall as the “backbone” of the campus and includes an extension of the mall west to Pauley-Rorem halls.

The origin of Marie’s gifts date back 75 years to when her late husband, Archie Carter ’33, attended Cornell. Archie became a successful engineer and a longtime member of the Cornell Board of Trustees. He would often notice something on campus that needed to be fixed—steps, a sidewalk, or a bare spot in need of a tree—and offer to pay for it.

"Archie had a longstanding commitment to Cornell’s campus and its beauty,” says Marie, 98, who lives in Bettendorf, Iowa. “The pedestrian mall, which so beautifully connects all the historic buildings along the Hilltop, is the ideal way to honor him. Archie loved Cornell and its educational mission. His special interest, though, was the campus itself. He would be so pleased with the quality of the campus today, and I’m glad I was able to contribute to that.”

Marie is an Iowa native who, with Archie, traveled widely and lived in urban areas and foreign countries. In the 1980s the Carters underwrote renovations to Bowman Hall, where Archie worked his way through college as a student waiter. After Archie’s death in 1994, Marie gave an additional major gift for renovations to Bowman, then known as Bowman-Carter Hall.

With her gift of the pedestrian mall, Marie not only honored Archie’s memory and the Fletcher and Carter families, she set the stage for future campus development.