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We are all enthusiastic about the prospect of having the new telescope properly installed and housed, and we feel that if anyone can accomplish this you will be able to do so.” While the school would not be able to fund a new building or actively campaign for donations, Dr.Francis Slack with Vanderbilt’s Department of Physics, explained to Seyfert that the administration would gladly connect him with members of the Barnard Astronomical Society and interested alumni.Dyer contacted Seyfert to request his assistance with building a sundial at his home.
Instead of asking for money to finance the construction, they requested in-kind services and donation of materials.
Elma Ferguson and Grace Ferguson Haugh, daughters of John Ferguson, who had worked on the development of a fused-quartz mirror for General Electric (GE) in Lynn, Massachusetts, were interested in donating the mirror to a university as a memorial to their father.
In 1943, the mirror was already fifteen years old and was located in a barn at the former family farm in Eldora, New Jersey, with the mounting in another location. Elliott, a professor in Harvard’s Department of Government and Vanderbilt alumnus, contacted Vanderbilt’s Chancellor Oliver C. Carmichael responded with interest in the donation of the mirror, yet admitted the university’s reluctance to accept the gift due to the lack of a suitable building on the campus to house the telescope.
In all, eighty firms and foundations were involved in the construction of the observatory, some donating specific services, others donating time or materials, including sand and gravel, concrete blocks, bricks, reinforcing steel, electrical materials, doors, glass, hardware, and a large septic tank.
Oman Construction Company built the road to the site in memory of John Oman, Jr., while the Du Pont Co.