a year of song

Small hints of the influence of music at Centenary College are still visible around campus – the organ in the Whitney Chapel and pianos in the Ferry Building and the Seay Building are two reminders of the importance of music at Centenary. The College has a rich musical history that helps outline the value of tradition in togetherness and school spirit. In Ms. Leila Roberta Custard’s Through Golden Years it is written:

            “Spontaneous and exuberant as was this student life, there was still a noticeably conscious effort to achieve better school spirit…Periodically the editorials contained pleas that the better students exert continuous influence to keep the tone of the school high” (Custard, 120).

            Music played a leading role in how school spirit was expressed, and school-wide events were full of cheers, yells, and songs.


Students and faculty alike expressed their pride for their school by writing songs for different occasions, and in 1910 these songs were collected for a music book called A Year of Song. Published by Carl F. Price, a graduate of Centenary Collegiate Institute, class of 1898, and a writer of songs and hymns, it articulated the experiences of decades of Centenary College alumni.


The songs were arranged to correspond with the school year, starting in September with a song the school still uses today – the “Alma Mater”, written by Harry Runyon in 1903. This song has stood the test of time, and proves that it is still as significant now in 2016 as it was over one hundred years ago. We hope students will continue to sing it for one hundred years more.



A riding class c.1920

For almost a century, Centenary College has been involved in equine studies. In the 1920s – 1950s, Centenary had classes for horseback riding, and also offered riding as an extracurricular activity. There was a Riding Club for students taking riding classes, and the Outing Club regularly scheduled excursions to local stables for all students. In 1957, Centenary College held its first horseshow. A two-year Horsemaster program was added to the curriculum in 1973 and expanded to a four-year program in 1977. Centenary acquired a new Equine Facility in 1982, and retitled the horsemaster program to be called Equine Studies two years later. The Equine Studies program has become one of the most well known equestrian programs in the nation.


Centenary’s first horse show, 1957

In 1999, the college broke ground on their new Equine Center. The new center is located on 65 acres of land in Long Valley and features 3 barns, 3 riding areas, and a hunt field. The equine program boasts an award-winning Equine Studies Program and nationally ranked riding teams. Equine students can earn an associate or bachelor degree in Equine Studies, and students in other degree programs can minor in Equine Studies. The Equestrian Center also offers a therapeutic riding program called TRAC (Therapeutic Riding at Centenary).


2014 IHSA National Champions

The school has several different competitive riding teams: ANRC (American National Riding Commission), IDA (Intercollegiate Dressage Association), IHSA, (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association), and a Hunter/Jumper team. Centenary riding teams consistently rank at the top of intercollegiate riding competitions. The ANRC team twice hosted the National Collegiate Championships, with the National Team earning the Reserve Championship and the Novice Team winning the Novice Championship. In 2013 The National Team won the Championship. The IDA team finished fifth in the Inaugural Intercollegiate Dressage Association National Finals in 201, and has qualified for the National Finals every year since. The IHSA team won the IHSA Hunter Seat National Champion three times between 2009 and 2014, and won the coveted Cacchione Cup several times (1997, 2009, 2011, and 2013). The Hunter/Jumper team competes in the Garden State Horse Show, the largest “AA” horse show in New Jersey – AA being the rating given to the most prestigious of United States Equestrian Federation shows.


The Equine Studies Program is thriving today and we look forward to seeing what our students can accomplish for years to come!


Centenary College is now Centenary University! The change might surprise some, but Centenary has been working at a university level for several years, so it’s a fitting adjustment. It’s also not the first time Centenary has gone through a name change. In fact, the school has had 5 different names over the years!


The school’s first name was Centenary Collegiate Institute. The school was named in 1866, the centennial year of American Methodism. It was originally established as a co-educational college preparatory institution and accepted boys and girls ages 13 and up. In 1910 the school became an all-girls’ school. Educational trends at the time suggested that each sex did better in academics at a single gender school, and a surplus of all-boys’ schools prompted C.C.I. to become all-girls.


In 1929 the Institute created Centenary Junior College, a two-year degree program, in addition to the offerings of Centenary Collegiate Institute. By 1940 C.J.C. was doing so well that the Institute was discontinued, and the school was known solely as Centenary Junior College.


In 1956 Centenary Junior College followed the trend once more in dropping the word ‘junior’ from its title [Junior colleges, the argument went, were not ‘junior’ to anything, and were as legitimate as other types of schools. Dropping the word ‘junior’ only reflected their educational worth]. Centenary Junior College became Centenary College for Women.


Between 1977 and 1978, the institution became Centenary College and began admitting male students to its continuing education program. Soon the school expanded its four-year programs and admitted male students to its traditional programs.

Centenary College’s continued expansion of programs and inclusion of graduate degree programs created the need for another name change, and now the school is Centenary University!cu



Centenary College, like many other institutions, has gone through times of both success and struggle. Its first 25 years can be counted as a time of great success. It was a source of great pride for everyone who had a hand in its creation.

Smooth Course Class of 1886.jpg

Because the college was a member of a religious conference, yearly evaluations were administered to assess its progress. A committee of members of other conferences and churches would evaluate the college. Year after year Centenary received shining commendations for the high quality of its students, staff, and facilities.

The school received praise from other observers, too. From a June 1891 edition of The Hackettstown Gazette: “The school has been a success from its opening…The faculty is stronger, its standard is higher, its accommodations greater, [and] its facilities better than they have even been, and its graduates are taking rank in the higher educational institutions that reflects only credit upon their alma mater. It has won for itself a prominent place among the education institutions of the land, and holds that place by deserving it.” Everyone who visited the campus came to the same conclusion: the instructors were superior, the students high achieving, and the campus beautiful.

Centenary was made greater by the support of her friends. Alumni and other supporters offered the school gifts that outfitted a library and an infirmary. Monetary donations were also abundant; From 1885 to 1891, the school built (in order) a Ladies’ Gym, Lab Science Building, a new Laundry, ice-house, two summer houses, and a Men’s Gym.

Centenary was quickly filled to capacity and even had several ‘refusing’ years, where there were so many students applying that many had to be turned away. The only complaint about the Institute was that it was too small. Dr. Whitney always refused to expand the building; even though the school was prospering, he knew it wasn’t the right time to grow, and the end of the 1800’s proved him right. In 1893, America was thrust into a financial crisis, culminating in a severe economic depression. Two years later, Dr. Whitney was forced to resign after years of failing health. Finally, in 1899, a fire of unknown origin destroyed the Institute Building.

A weaker institution might have crumbled under these circumstances, but not Centenary. Her spirit was dampened but not extinguished. The early decades of the 1900’s tested the Institute’s perseverance and adaptability, but as always the school overcame its obstacles to enter another era of good times.



Swim Meet vs Fairleigh Feb 10, 1964

Swim Meet, 1964

Swimming was once a popular pastime for the students of Centenary College. From swim classes to the Aquatic Club, there were plenty of opportunities for our students to get in the pool!

old swimming pool

The original swimming pool

The original swimming pool was built in the Autumn of 1908 and opened in November of the same year. The pool was a gift of George J. Ferry, President of the Centenary Collegiate Institute Board of Trustees. It was attached to the gymnasium, later remodeled into the Ferry Arts and Music Building. In 1961 a new swimming pool was built adjoining the Student Union Building, which was located on the site where the John M. Reeves Student Recreation Center now stands. Named the George J. Ferry Natatorium, that swimming pool is still in use today.

The pool was just used for swim classes and life-saving courses until the 1930s, when the school starting hosting a yearly interclass swim meet. Each class of girls elected several of their best swimmers to compete in fun events including the egg and spoon race and ‘swimming with arms alone’.


Not exactly synchronized yet, but they’re working on it

The 1940s marked the beginning of the Aquatic Club, which promoted interest in swimming, life-saving, and water fun. The Aquatic Club’s first show, called “The Aqua Rhythms of 1946”, featured several original acts and costumes created by the performers themselves. The shows gained a reputation for greatness and quickly became a delightful yearly event.

Aquatic Club Water Show May 14-6, 1969

The Aquatic Show, 1969

 Professor of Physical Education Bette Rhoads, herself a holder of several state American Athletic Union swimming and diving titles and former National Junior High Board Diving Champion, coached the swim teams and synchronized swimming team from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The Aquatic Club disappeared sometime between 1977 and 1981, and the swim team disappeared about a decade later. The swimming pool still gets plenty of use, though – Centenary offers pool hours for our students as well as swimming lessons and open programs for members of the local community.


campus 1909

Centenary Collegiate Institute c. 1910

Before the campus of Centenary College was built in Hackettstown, the land it now sits on was a cornfield, described during the laying of the cornerstone in 1869 as “desolate – not a tree – not a shrub” (Custard, pg 10). In fact, the town hadn’t yet grown to reach the campus. There was no street in front of the grounds and Church Street, which runs from Main Street directly to the college, was not yet opened. Shortly after opening, the grounds were beautified with the planting of over 200 trees and 800 shrubs. Only a few years later, the lawn seemed “like a very pleasure garden” (Custard, pg 57).

The campus had a broad representation of ornamental species, thanks to the work of early arborists. Over the years, some species have died away due to harsh weather or other natural causes, and the campus has gained some newer plantings. In the spring of 1954 Mrs. Marjorie T. Bingham, instructor of biology, directed a project to mark the trees of Centenary with small metal plates giving the name of the species. This project recorded over 40 varieties of trees. In the 1990s, another survey was done of the trees on campus and printed into a booklet called The Trees of Centenary. A joint effort by members of the Centenary community, it listed all the trees on campus that could be identified and included several photographs of leaves and bark.

gray birchHeading the publication was Professor Lewis T. Parrish, then professor/department chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Parrish, who came to Centenary in 1959, was a pillar among Centenary’s faculty for over 3 decades and came to Centenary with a well-rounded resume. He had previously held jobs as a metallurgist, meat packer, haberdasher, farmer, and a US history and mathematics teacher.

japanese cherry

At Centenary he was the head of the Science Club, participated in Faculty vs. Student sports like bowling and softball, received grants to study genetics and biology, advised one of the sororities, and was a member of several faculty panels. Professor Parrish was in awe of the flora around campus and hoped creating The Trees of Centenary would benefit those who loved it as well.

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 -1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc, 1947. Print.


This post was written by guest contributor Courtney Butrymowicz. Butrymowicz, a student in Dr. Mastrangelo’s Spring 2016 Advanced Composition class, had the opportunity to work with archival materials to learn more about Centenary College’s history. This is an excerpt from her Archival Scrapbook Paper.

Editha Trevorrow was an invaluable person and staple to Centenary College and the surrounding community during her time as Dean of Students, interim President, and wife of the late President of Centenary, Robert Trevorrow from the years 1917 to 1943 (Custard, 195). She kept many scrapbooks during her years at Centenary, but one has contents that could only be described as deeply moving. The fact that students felt the need to invite her to their weddings and tell her about the births of their children after they had graduated, shows that Editha had a huge impact on these students’ lives. Other pieces of ephemera indicate that her role in the Centenary College community was just as prevalent and important.

edith trevorrow1Editha Trevorrow was very active on campus as Dean of Students and made a huge impact on the students during their years at Centenary. Editha attended bi-monthly meetings with the Student Council, which helped resolve any disputes between students and administration (Custard, 185). She was very active in teaching and mentoring students as well. In 1929, Centenary became a Junior College, helping and teaching young women in high school and college. Editha Trevorrow took over recruiting and helping high school girls come to Centenary. She drove trucks to and from the school, and had meetings and interviews with prospective parents and girls interested in college. This boosted the Centenary enrollment rates, per the ten year plan, and now Editha was well-known amongst a huge majority of Centenary students (Custard, 175). She was invited to tea parties hosted by societies on campus, class parties, recitals, dances, and prose and poetry readings, which were performed by societies and students alike (Custard, 165). Editha received weddings invitations from former students and as well as their children’s birth announcements (Editha Trevorrow Scrapbook). She held a Weekly Young Women’s Christian Association meetings and was the chairwomen of the Junior Red Cross (Custard, 168). She helped young women form committees and knit to help the soldiers in World War II (Custard, 168).Pages from 1943 HACK

After her husband’s passing, Editha took over the role of Centenary President until the college could find a replacement. The transition was smooth because Editha was already the Dean of the college, and so already understood the administrative duties of a President. She also previously had a good repertoire [sic] with the students and faculty as Dean of Students.

            The scrapbook should be kept in the archives because if the scrapbook was not in the archives, people would not know what college was like in the 1930s and 1940s. By not having the scrapbook, Centenary would lose part of its rich history. Dr. Trevorrow and Editha Trevorrow influenced Centenary in a substantial way: they paid off Centenary’s debt, introduced new and innovative programs and classes for the college, and helped the surrounding community…This scrapbook truly captures her life at Centenary and what it was like for a student to go to Centenary.

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through the golden years 1867-1943. New York, Lewis

            Historical Publishing Company, Inc. 1947. Print.

Frey, Raymond. The Campus History Series Centenary College, New Jersey.

            Charleston, Arcadia Publishing. 2012. Print.

Trevorrow, Editha. Scrapbook, bound with twine. Approximately 10 by 14 inches

             (beginning with wedding announcements and invitations-1934). Taylor Memorial

              Library, Archive. Centenary College, Hackettstown NJ.

This document was reproduced as it was written by Courtney Butrymowicz for her Advanced Composition class. No changes have been made.