A group of students from the 1910s

It’s probably very hard for a Centenary student of today to imagine what it was like to be at the school one hundred years ago. Here are a few of the Senior Privileges a student of that time could enjoy:

1. Seniors could study on campus or porches during regular study hours, if quiet.

2. Seniors could sit on the steps of the front porch after dinner and return to their dormitories by the front entrance.

3. Seniors could go to the farm between church and dinner on Sunday.

4. Seniors could walk to the farm with young men guests on any afternoon after three o’clock and on Anniversary Sunday between 1:30 and 3:30, remaining not longer than one hour at any time.

5. Seniors could have senior tables the last four weeks, without chaperone and with privileges of arranging groups of seven at each table, changing groups each week (This privilege could be forfeited by the entire class if any table was unduly noisy).

6. Seniors could, for the next to the last change of the year, choose a table from among those at which the senior had not sat during that year.

7. Seniors could go to the village every day except Saturday and Sunday unchaperoned. This privilege was forfeited for an entire week following any week in which the senior had one unexcused meal absence, a meal tardy, which is the third one, three misdemeanors, or one ‘cut’ on the corridor or elsewhere.

8. Seniors of the Honor Roll were permitted to go to the village on Monday morning between 10:30 and 12:00, and during vacant periods in the afternoon of school days, in place of the regular time.

9. Seniors could cut breakfast on Sunday morning if they followed these conditions:
a) Must be quiet on the corridor
b) Must be ready for church on time
c) Must have room in good order
d) Must not have prohibited things to eat
e) Must do no cooking unless by special permission from Miss. Breckenridge

Austin, Olive10. Seniors could keep their lights on until 10:00 PM on Sunday.

Students residing on Senior Hall were on their honor to respect the privileges given to them and, if they did not, risked losing those privileges for their whole class. It was very important for the students, then, to stay out of trouble! These privileges were signed by Olive L. Austin, Dean of Centenary Collegiate Institute, and teacher in Bible Studies, Ethics, and Psychology from 1911 to 1917.




There was once a time at Centenary when male and female students were not allowed to freely socialize. Today, it seems crazy to think that boys and girls attending the same school would only interact a handful of times a year, but that was a reality for the students of Centenary Collegiate Institute. A student from the 1880’s recalled their lack of social contact with the girls, saying, “We had a scant hour at meals…a signal tossed perhaps across the chapel; a ‘kerchief waved from a window, little else except a real ‘Parlor Social’ two or three times a year…”

Mealtimes were strict business in those days; students had to attend every meal and sat in assigned seats. The girls sat on one side of a long table with the boys opposite them.

Dining Room 1880s

Dining Room, 1880s

At the beginning of the school year, the girls chose their seats. Returning students took their old seats, and new girls took unclaimed seats. Then the boys entered and chose seats in the same fashion – with one exception. As a boy went to take an empty seat, he would have to quickly determine the level of interest of the female sitting opposite – if she smiled, he could take a seat. If he was met with indifference, he had to keep walking.

In later years, the custom was for boys to rotate seats every two weeks. That system could be (and often was) easily circumvented so that a boy could dine opposite the lady of his choice for much longer than two weeks. The result of these occasional social interactions, combined with “ingenuity and inventiveness” (209), led to many marriages of C.C.I. schoolmates. The Rev. Dr. Whitney, Centenary’s first president, jokingly referred to the school as his ‘Match Factory’ and officiated a number of those weddings himself. Even unyielding separation of the male and female students couldn’t stop Cupid from doing his work!

Today, mealtime at Centenary is completely unlike its early years; students now chose what meals they eat here, when they go to the cafeteria, and who they eat with. Imagine how a student from 1880 would react!


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


This year for Centenary University’s Alumni and Family Weekend, the library will have a presentation on Katharine Brush, a student from Centenary who graduated in 1917!

Katharine Ingham Brush was born Katharine Ingham in Connecticut in 1902 and attended Centenary Collegiate Institute between 1913 and 1917. Casey, as she was known at Centenary, was very active in student activities.

katharine brush 6She was on several athletic teams and held positions in literary clubs and organizations. As an editor for the Hack Yearbook, she contributed jokes, articles, and essays to the 1917 yearbook.

katharine brush 1

Excerpt, Prophecy of the Class of 1917, 1917 Yearbook:

I know that I am soon to depart this earthly life, slain in an arduous battle with the Natural Enemy, college entrance exams, and I feel that this will be my last appearance on this terrestrial ball. So, on this thirteenth day of June, nineteen seventeen, I inscribe these facts for publication, that the consciousness of the greatness of my prophetic talents may not bloom alone within my own self but that, like the genius of the Cassandra that I once was, it may live on after my decease, to all eternity.


katharine brush 4She also performed in the Glee Club and in plays put on by her literary society, The Diokosophians.


What time it was, I do not know, what place I do not care
But in American History class sat Casey, sad and fair.
Her turn was fast approaching, she was consumed with fright
Her one thought was, “Oh! how I hope I won’t have to recite.”
At last the one beside her had stood and had her say,
And then for poor dear Casey ’twas night instead of day.
A name was called, she, trembling rose, and started to”expound”-
But why this mighty laughter that shakes the whole room round ?
The class was in an uproar! Casey began to fumble
For instead of Katharine Ingham, the name was Kathryn Rumble.

E.B. (Edna Bigelow, associate editor of the Hack Board)

After graduating, Katharine Ingham began working as a columnist for the Boston Traveler. She published multiple short stories and novels under her married name, Brush. Later in life, she went by the nickname Kay.

katharine brush 5

Among her many published works are Glitter, Little Sins, Night Club, The Boy from Maine, and When She Was Bad. Several of her novels have been made into movies. Red Headed Woman was made into a film in 1932. It is considered a pre-code classic due to its racy comedy.

katharine brush 2

She passed away in New York City in 1952, just shy of her 50th birthday.

The Library is excited to host Kay & Me, a chance encounter in a lecture hall that lead to a decade-long love affair between a middle-aged scholar and the host of a long forgotten Jazz Age novelist, presented by Jonathan Matthews on October 7th at 1 pm. Come hear how the wise-cracking daughter of a prim New England headmaster became a leading luminary in the literary and motion picture worlds, one whose dazzling light burned alongside that of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jean Harlow, and, like theirs, was extinguished too soon.


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

150.07 The ResurrectionAfter the fire of 1899, the Centenary community worked hard to rebuild the campus and revive its spirit. Professor Albert O. Hammond, head of the Classical Languages & Literature Department, was instrumental in keeping the school afloat. He took on the monumental task of creating, running, and paying for an interim school for the 1900-1901 school year.

During this time, the school focused on raising money to rebuild. The school built a new administration building and two dormitories. The three buildings were separate but viewing them from the front created the illusion of one massive building.

For the next ten years, students would celebrate the anniversary of the 1899 fire with a ceremony called the Salamander Celebration. Salamanders, as myths stated, were created from fire and emerged from flames as better-equipped and more magnificent beings. The ceremony ended with the burning of a miniature replica of the school symbolizing the rekindling of school spirit.

After the fire of 2015, Centenary made plans to replicate the President’s House. Construction is underway right now. Once completed, the house will be available as a residence for the President and his or her family, and as a location for special events.

The information in this post was taken from Albert O. Hammond, New Main, Salamander Celebration, and The President’s House.


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

Centenary has faced many trials throughout its 150 years, including two fires that occurred over a century apart. Both fires were of unknown origin.

150.06 The Conflagration 1


The first fire broke out in the original Main Building on October 31st, 1899. The Main Building was one of only a few buildings on campus and housed all of Centenary Collegiate Institute’s dormitories and most of its classrooms and meeting areas. It was built between 1869 and 1874.

Shortly after midnight, a night watchman discovered a fire in the basement and, being unable to fight the flames himself, awoke the institute’s bookkeeper. The two men, joined by three professors roused by the smell of smoke, found the basement fully engulfed. They quickly set out to awaken the building’s occupants, and within minutes, all were awake and exiting the building.

Although the building was destroyed, there were no casualties or injuries. Centenary created an interim program to allow students to finish the school year, and ran a day school while a new building was being constructed.


On January 7th, 2015, Centenary University (then Centenary College) suffered another great loss – the President’s House. The President’s House was actually assembled from pieces of an earlier house, an 1890s mansion that originally stood in Morristown. It was moved in the early 1900s by the Hoffman Family, who rebuilt it and lived there for the next thirty-five years. Centenary (Centenary Junior College) purchased the house in August 1945, and turned it into the president’s residence and working space.

Fire departments were alerted to the fire at 4:45 PM, and over 22 different agencies responded to offer their help. Responders to the scene were plagued by bitterly cold temperatures and intense winds that thwarted their rescue efforts. They battled the flames until well after midnight, but the house was a total loss. The president at the time, President Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, did not use the house as a residence, so it was unoccupied when the fire started and there were no casualties. Immediately afterwards, plans were made to rebuild the house, and construction is underway. Centenary looks forward to using the new house once it is completed.


In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University, the library archives staff is highlighting some of the less well known items in the archives—in this case, silver service tea sets from the early days of Centenary.

The collection includes a total of thirteen pieces from three different tea sets, each with its own distinct pattern or floral design. Altogether, there are four teapots, four sugar bowls, three creamers, and one serving tray.



Teapots and Silver tray used during a birthday tea

Two of these sets were likely used for “family-style” meals in Centenary’s dining hall and for informal teas held by senior class advisors such as Miss Breckenridge or “Brecky” as she was affectionately referred to by the students. While these more relaxed teas were held in the parlors and “taught some of the graces young ladies should have,” formal teas were also held throughout the early 1960s by President Seay (Custard, 1945, p. 236). These monthly birthday celebrations were held in The President’s House and surviving photographs offer a glimpse into the social culture of Centenary at that time. Photographs also reveal that one of the sets included a second teapot; the location of this item is currently unknown and was possibly lost in the fire of 2015. See and learn more about The President’s House here.


The third tea set belonged to Ruth Scarborough—the first director of the Taylor Memorial Library—and boasts an impressively etched “S” on each of its five pieces. While all pieces have a hexagonal base, the set’s two teapots of differing size are unique in their wooden handles. Ruth Scarborough worked at Centenary College from 1946 to 1982. See and learn more about her here.


Custard, L. R. (1947). Through golden years: 1867-1943. New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting information from past posts about Centenary’s history.


Centenary Collegiate Institute, 1874

Before Centenary University was built, the land it would sit on was a cornfield, described during the laying of the cornerstone in 1869 as “desolate – not a tree – not a shrub” (Custard, pg 10). The campus was also set far back from the still small town of Hackettstown, and planks had to be laid from Main Street to the Institute for people to travel on.



C.C.I. Gymnasium

Over the next 30 years, several buildings were added to the campus; apart from the Main Building, the campus had two gymnasiums, a chemical laboratory, a barn, and an icehouse. Hundreds of trees and shrubs were also planted to make the campus feel “like a very pleasure garden” (Custard, pg 57).



Centenary Collegiate Institute, 1902

The Great Fire of 1899 destroyed the Main Building but not the spirit of Centenary; a new Main Building and two separate dormitory buildings were built in two years. The institution remained largely unchanged until the start of the 1940s, when it was decided to expand the campus to fit its growing student population.



Trevorrow Hall, 1950s

In rapid succession, the school (now known as Centenary Junior College) built Trevorrow Hall (1941), Lotte Hall (1949), Van Winkle Hall (1951), Taylor Memorial Library and the Reeves Student Center (1954), Brotherton Hall (1956), Washabaugh Hall (1962), Anderson Hall (1965), and the Ferry Arts and Music Building (mid 1960s, which expanded and renovated the original C.C.I. Gymnasium).


Lackland Center, 2009

Another boom in growth began with the addition of an Equine Center (1978), the Harris and Betts Smith Learning Center (1996), Littell Technology Center (2003), Bennett-Smith Hall (2003), Founder’s Hall (2006), the John M. Reeves Student Recreation Center (2006, which expanded and renovated the original Reeves Student Center), and the Lackland Center (2009). Centenary also opened centers in Parsippany and Edison.

This information was pulled from multiple posts: The First Main Building, The Great Fire, Athletics, The Trees of Centenary, The Ways and Customs of Centenary College, and Trevorrow Hall.