Nominally a Part of Stanford University

Below: Photograph of Dr. Harold Heath who participated in ten of the twenty-three years of regular sessions of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. As a participating Stanford student in the summer of 1894; in the position of Instructor during the summers of 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1909, 1910; in the position of Instructor in Charge during the summer of 1909 and Occupying Investigators Room during the summers of 1901 and 1902.

For the first twenty-five years of its existence, Hopkins Seaside Laboratory was only nominally a part of Stanford University, with the instructors being members of the biological faculty of the University. (10) During this twenty-five year period, Dr. Charles Henry Gilbert and Dr. Oliver Peebles Jenkins served as the acting directors of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory, be it for a significant amount of this time in name only.


Published in the Leland Stanford Junior University First Annual Register 1891-1892 was the following early announcement about the seaside laboratory.


A seaside laboratory of natural history has been founded as a branch of the University by the liberality of Mr. Timothy Hopkins, of San Francisco. The laboratory is located on Point Aulon, a headland projecting into the sea near the town of Pacific Grove, on the Bay of Monterey. It will be provided with aquaria and with all apparatus necessary for carrying on studies in the structure, development, and life history of marine animals and plants, and will be open during the summer vacation of each year to naturalists wishing to carry on original investigations, and to students and teachers who desire to make themselves familiar with methods of study in marine zoology and botany. The work of the laboratory will be under the general direction of Professors Gilbert, Jenkins, and Campbell, the committee of the University Faculty in charge. The general purpose of the laboratory is similar to that of the Marine Zoological Laboratory at Woods Holl, Mass., and to the seaside and marine laboratories established by Johns Hopkins University at different places along the Atlantic coast. The Bay of Monterey is peculiarly favorable for investigations of the kind contemplated, being exceedingly rich with life, and the life history of the peculiar animals and plants of the Pacific Coast has for the most part received little study from naturalists. (11)


Also from the Leland Stanford Junior University First Annual Register 1891-1892, was published a one-paragraph description defining the purposes for which the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory has been constructed.

"…The aims sought in the establishment of this branch of the Biological work of the University are mainly: To supplement the work given in the regular courses of instruction in the Zoological, Botanical, and Physiological Departments of the University under the favorable conditions of such station; to provide facilities for investigators who are prepared to make researches in Marine Biology for which the Pacific Coast offers exceptional attractions, in that its field is very rich and as yet is largely unworked; to afford an opportunity to those, especially teachers, who desire to become acquainted with marine animals and plants and to learn the practical methods of their study..." (12)


As for the specifics of the building site for the seaside laboratory, Point Aulon stood as a small treeless plateau that rested above a steep rocky point. The position of the plateau provided the building with views of the Monterey Bay on three of four sides. In front of the building was a protected cove with a small sandy beach that allowed for the safe landing of small boats; to the rear of the building and thirty feet below, the surf crashed on the rocks. (13) Unforeseen was that this building was positioned a bit too close to the crashing surf, as the faculty and administration of Stanford University soon learned. During a winter storm in 1893, large waves reached the rear of the building, threatened to overturn the laboratory, and seriously damaged this one existing structure. This lack of stabilization required the addition of wooden braces positioned at each of the four corners of the building. (14)


In his book titled Stanford University - The First Twenty Five Years 1891-1925, Orrin Leslie Elliott - Stanford’s first Secretary and Registrar - provides the following information related to the financial resources available for establishing the seaside laboratory.

"During the first year, because of the heavy initial expenses in starting Stanford University, it seemed best not to ask for any financial support to be directed toward the development of a marine biological laboratory. Fortunately, however, as soon as the project became known, the city of Pacific Grove appropriated three hundred dollars to further the enterprise. The Pacific Improvement Company provided another five hundred dollars and offered free use of a site for the Laboratory. Timothy Hopkins, the adopted son of Mark Hopkins was a close friend of the Leland and Mrs. Stanford came forward with a gift of one thousand dollars."

"Mr. Hopkins was a partner in the Pacific Improvement Company and through his influence the Company increased the amount of land offered and made it a gift instead of a lease. In the end, approximately one acre of land was obtained from the Pacific Improvement Company at Point Aulon. In recognition of Mr. Hopkins' generosity, though against his protest, the name Hopkins Seaside Laboratory was adopted." (15)


(10) Kellogg, V. L. (1899). The Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. The American Naturalist. 33 (392) 629-634.

(11) Leland Stanford Junior University. First Annual Register 1891-1892. Palo Alto, California Published by the University 1892.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Dean, Bashford (1897). A Californian Marine Biological Station. Natural Science. 11 (65) 28-35.

(14) Ibid.