Time and Again
Centennial Photo Collection
Centennial Memories of Keene State College
The Formative Years
Keene State was created nearly 100 years ago out of an urgent need for professionally trained teachers. The momentum of the new school and its mission carried it from its foundation as Keene Normal School in 1909 to the proud public liberal-arts institution it is today. Yes, it’s a story of the tremendous maturation of the role of public higher education in our country during the 20th century. But, for those who love it, it’s a story of people – eager students, dedicated faculty, energetic staff, the hard-working townspeople of Keene – people striving to get along, get educated, and get ahead. Over the next three years, Keene State Today will tell this story as we celebrate the Centennial.
The graduating class of 1912 gathered for a portrait. As students, they met every morning on the third floor of the Hale building for devotional exercises and then dispersed to study pedagogy, history, drawing, psychology, music, school management, library science, manual training, and other subjects, or to practice on real children in the model elementary schools on Winchester Street and Adams Street (the latter would become Wheelock School in 1915). Those who lived beyond an easy buggy ride rented rooms in nearby homes, usually paying between $1.75 and $3 a week. Harriet Lane Huntress, a member of Henry Morrison’s staff, personally inspected and approved all homes that boarded students. The young women’s curriculum was set in 1909 by principal Jeremiah Rhodes, whom Morrison had recruited from Kansas State Normal School (along with several faculty members), and directed beginning in 1911 by principal Wallace E. Mason, who would mold the school for 28 years.
Henry Clinton Morrison
Henry Clinton Morrison is the single biggest reason why Keene State College is in Keene and not Nashua or Manchester. Appointed New Hampshire superintendent of public instruction in 1904, Morrison harnessed progressive ideals to his take-no-prisoners personality and transformed public education. He visited every one of the state’s 2,113 public schools – the majority one-room schoolhouses – and crusaded for teacher education. Recognizing that Keene already had a high-quality school system that would support student teachers, he pushed successfully for the establishment of Keene Normal School (the term is from the French école normale, meaning a model school). The brilliant Morrison ended his career as a professor at the University of Chicago, a vibrant think-tank of its day, where he held a chair previously occupied by educational theorists Francis Wayland Parker (for whom Parker Hall would be named) and John Dewey.
By 1920, when this photo of the Fiske Quad was taken, Keene Normal School’s enrollment had jumped and the campus had expanded. Its two original buildings, purchased in 1909 at $12,000 each, were the 1861 Italianate mansion known as the Hale Building and the 1805 Federal-style home (today the President’s House) that in the 1830s had been the residence of pioneering educator Catherine Fiske and the site of her Young Ladies’ Seminary. Fortunately, both Main Street homes had come with considerable land and outbuildings behind them. The 125-foot greenhouse shown in the photo was part of the Hale property. In 1914, three new buildings went up: Fiske Hall (named for the educator) to provide dormitory space, Parker Hall for much-needed classroom space and an assembly hall (now Drenan auditorium), and a central heating plant with its landmark brick smokestack to pipe steam heat to all buildings.
The new assembly hall in Parker (above) seated 200, with room for another 100 on the stage. Early in his administration, Principal Wallace "Daddy" Mason invited public health nurse and social reformer Margaret Sanger to speak to the students. Sanger told the women it was time for them to "enter to learn and go forth to serve." Mason, with the faculty’s approval, had the phrase painted on the west wall of the auditorium as the school motto. It was later inscribed on the Alumni Gate as a gift from the classes of 1910-1925.
First School Song
Ruth McQuestin, a cofounder of the Kronicle, wrote the lyrics to the first school song in about 1914.
Girls, up and fight, fight, fight for old Keene Normal
Our loyalty proclaim!
In every contest we must strive to conquer,
For there must be no limit to her fame.
Her honor, ever our inspiring genius,
Upon our strength relies,
So let our hearts knit near
To raise a rousing good cheer;
Victory’s laurels be her fadeless prize.
We pledge and prove our faith to Alma Mater,
The dept to her we owe,
We’ll recompense with gratitude and service,
Undoubting pride the only thought we know.
We’ll strive to gain the summit whence she beckons,
Our heart’s blood throbbing high.
Though perils it involve, we’ll make this granite resolve,
In protecting her, we’ll do or die.
So kindle bright the fires upon her altar,
To burn while time shall last,
In future years its flame may be the emblem
Of courage, strength, and vigor unsurpassed.
She reigns supreme the loved and honored sovereign,
That through our lives shall rule.
Unfurl the red and white, the only colors in sight,
As we hail our dear Keene Normal School.
The editors thank Vesta Hornbeck ’76 M.Ed. for her help in researching and writing this piece.
Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of the Alumni Office.
If you have old photographs or memorabilia that would help tell the history of Keene State, please share them for our Centennial projects. Call or e-mail Susan Peery at 603-358-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We promise to take good care of your treasures.