Hurricane tree damage

Courtesy of Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

Eighty years ago—on September 21, 1938—winds topping one hundred miles per hour whipped down Professors Row in a hurricane that caused more than one hundred deaths and $100 million (about $6 billion in today’s dollars) of property damage in Massachusetts alone. “I wondered if Goddard Chapel had survived,” recalled Ralph Vaccaro, A41, who weathered the hurricane at his family’s home in Medford. Students “living in the dorms were frightened by the violence of the storm,” Vaccaro remembered, but miraculously, no one at Tufts was injured. And even though ferocious gusts felled power lines and sixty-three trees around campus—damage was especially bad on the academic quad—all buildings emerged unscathed, including Goddard Chapel.

Courtney Hollands

Courtney Hollands, deputy editor for Tufts magazines and editor of Tufts Medicine, can be reached at