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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Ithaca

231 Feeny Way, Cornell University's Rockefeller Hall


Exterior view of Rockefeller Hall, located at 231 Feeney Way, with the web address tompkins.historyforge.net visit to learn more.


Vintage tax assessment photograph of Rockefeller Hall, taken in 1954 by Roy Wenzlick & Co., for government appraisal purposes

It’s Deaf History Month! Did you know that Rockefeller Hall is where Dr. Frederick Bedell developed his revolutionary Mechanical Ear device? This device paved the way for modern hearing aids by allowing individuals with hearing loss to experience sound vibrations directly through their teeth or skin.


Let's take a moment to appreciate the architectural marvel that is Rockefeller Hall at Cornell University. Constructed in 1903 and designed by Carrère and Hastings, it was named after John D. Rockefeller. Rumor has it, upon seeing the finished building John D. Rockefeller thought it was so ugly he declared he would never donate any more money to Cornell. Despite its initial reception, its Colonial Revival style, red-brick facade, carved wood interior staircase, and more highlights the grandeur of its era.

Dr. Frederick Bedell demonstrating his invention, "the deaf speaker" hearing aid, in 1931.

As we celebrate Deaf History Month, let's honor the legacy of Dr. Bedell and the groundbreaking advancements made within the walls of Rockefeller Hall.





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