100 Great Things About Keene State College
Your fondest mememories, funniest stories, biggest heroes, and more
Last spring we asked for your ideas for this special issue of Keene State Today. What would you put on a list of 100 great things about Keene State?
We heard from you – students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends. You responded with lists, quotes, stories, and photos. You sent dozens of ideas – eloquent, funny, heartfelt, emphatic memories and thoughts.
You talked about the beauty of the campus. The richness of student life. The sense of community and how to find common ground. The certainty that Keene State is a living, growing organism, a campus on the move.
You wrote about your heroes – mostly the unsung variety – and great moments in KSC history. You noted the academic gems that make Keene State sparkle. You recalled a transformational conversation with a professor. You wrote about a single Johnny jump-up blooming on a green lawn.
We are 100 years old, and we are young.
Loving the Lilacs
They bloom for commencement, the fragrant lavender lilacs in front of Fiske, praised in song: "On lilac paths we've strolled, past halls in ivy twined. 'Neath Mount Monadnock rising bold, our college stands enshrined.…"
Though his religious and moral expectations were pretty heavy handed by today's standards, President Wallace "Daddy" Mason boosted the school in its early years with his confident vision and enthusiasm and made students proud to be here. That spirit and pride flourish today.
Many people pointed to our beautiful campus as one of the greatest things about KSC, and it's likely that they are thinking of the Quad.
Credit for its current beauty goes to the College administration of the early 1990s. By then the Quad, the historic setting for commencement and other activities, had become overgrown and outgrown, crowded with tennis courts, parking spaces, and unruly hemlocks.
In the summer of 1993, the tennis courts were removed, the area was landscaped, and wider walkways were installed to define the formal quadrangle.
The stately cupola that graces Huntress Hall is iconic, though there are three others that add fine accents to the historic buildings around the Quad: on Fiske, Morrison, and Rhodes halls.
Keeping History Alive
Three historic homes on Main Street anchor the campus to the community.
The first two buildings acquired by the city of Keene in 1909 to start Keene Normal School were the Catherine Fiske residence (1805), site of her Seminary for Young Ladies, and the Dinsmoor-Hale House (1861).
Catherine Fiske's home and school is now the President's residence, and Hale has offices for several of the top administrators of the College, including the president.
Elliot Mansion (1811) on the corner of Main Street and Wyman Way, now the Elliot Center, also served as Keene's first community hospital. All three buildings, beautifully preserved, are on the National Register of Historic Places.