Princeton Chapel Bulldog – Princeton, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura

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Princeton Chapel Bulldog

The mysterious canine hides atop a drain pipe on the back of the building, some say as a sneaky shoutout to Yale. 


Princeton University’s mascot is the tiger, so why is there a bulldog hidden on the back of their chapel? Look closely at the puzzled expression on the dog’s face, and you’ll realize it, too, seems confused by this question.

According to campus lore, the dog was placed there as part of a sneaky bit of Ivy League rivalry. A popular myth is that the architect of the chapel was a graduate of Yale University, so he left his mark in the form of a Yale Bulldog on his work. 

In reality, Ralph Adams Cram (supervising architect of Princeton University from 1907 to 1929) designed the Princeton University Chapel after a fire destroyed the original Marquand Chapel in 1920. He did not attend Yale, and his primary assistant, Alexander Hoyle, was a graduate of Harvard University. Though the Yale Bulldog myth has largely been debunked, rumors still circulate around campus.

This mysterious bulldog can be found staring down from a copper drain pipe on the chapel’s back right exterior corner that faces Dickinson Hall. Like a secret guard dog, it keeps a close eye on all who unknowingly pass beneath. The conundrum remains as to why there is a bulldog on the back of the chapel in the first place.

Know Before You Go

From the front of the chapel, walk around the right side until you get to the back corner facing Dickinson Hall and look up in search of a face on the drain pipe.

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