At one time, Centenary had a large music department. In fact, the music department was the largest department the college’s first year, with 87 studying instrumental music and 72 studying vocal music. Fine Arts & Music were special features for Centenary at a time when few other schools had facilities for musical instruction that rivaled theirs.
There were many musical clubs for students in the early years – The Mandolin and Banjo Cub, The String Glee Club, the C.C.I. Concert Band, and the C.C.I. Orchestra, which thrived for many years.
The music department, or Observatory of Music, remained unchanged for many years, thanks to the untiring energy of its students and faculty. Mr. Mets, former Head of the Music Department, was a teacher of Piano and Organ at Centenary from 1906 to 1946 – a staggering 40 years!
The music department received its own building in the mid 1960s when the Joseph R. Ferry Music and Arts Building was constructed. The building was named after Joseph R. Ferry, graduate of Centenary in 1907 (when it was still Centenary Collegiate Institute) and member of the trustees since 1948. Formerly the Denman Gymnasium and swimming pool, it was expanded with a new wing and the existing structure was converted to practice rooms, rehearsal spaces, a recital hall, classrooms, and offices for music teachers. The building opened in the spring semester of 1965.
By the mid 1990s, the building was just called the Ferry Building, an indication of the diminishing music program. The building has found several new uses and functions as classrooms and office space. The college still offers several music classes for those students interested in learning and making music.