College events



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!


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.


Winter 6

Winter Carnival, December 5 1952

hatchery pond skating 1948

Winter Carnival, December 5 1952

Long ago the students of Centenary held a yearly celebration they called the Winter Carnival.


The girls (remember, Centenary was an all girls school) enjoyed a winter themed dance, and if there was snow, winter festivities like skiing and snow sculpture making.

Other events rounded out the spectacle, including vocal concerts, sleigh rides, relay races, and the crowning of the Snow Queen. How did they choose the Snow Queen? She was chosen for her beauty, her participation in the Winter Carnival, and her winter attire; the Snow Queen was considered the most typical girl of the Winter Carnival.

Winter 7

President Seay crowns Dana Andrews the Snow Queen, 1957

The Winter Carnival was first mentioned in passing in a 1945 issue of the student newspaper and was written up in a 1946 issue. That year it was too warm for skiing and skating but the girls still enjoyed their weekend dance with blind dates from Hoboken school Stevens Tech.

Winter 3

Winter Dance, December 5 1952

The next big mention for the Winter Carnival was in 1954 when it was sponsored by the Outing Club. The article says the Winter Carnival was a new idea and it was hoped that it would grow in importance – looks like it had gone into hibernation for a while! For the next two decades the Winter Carnival would come and go, ending one year and being brought back a year or two later. The last mention of the Winter Carnival was in a 1972 issue of the student newspaper.


Library staff members have been working on several archival projects over the past few months. Here’s a look at what’s been going on!

Colleen Bain, a staff member from the Archives at Centenary College, traveled to Rutherfurd Hall with Centenary English Professor Dr. Lisa Mastrangelo to take part in their Tea and Talk series. They discussed the history of scrapbooking in America, using scrapbooks from Taylor Memorial Library’s archival collection. The collection includes scrapbooks kept by the first President of the school, wives of administrators, and the students themselves.

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One of the scrapbooks from Taylor Memorial Library’s collection

The two are also working together for Dr. Mastrangelo’s Advanced Composition class. Students in this class work closely with items from  TML’s Archives for their writing assignments, and meet with Archives staff members to learn more about the history of Centenary College. The class has partnered with the Archives for the past two semesters and will run a third time during this spring semester. In late January, Bain and Mastrangelo will also talk to the faculty about the use of archival materials (specifically scrapbooks) to teach advanced college writing.

A new project this semester is an upcoming lecture on the history of Centenary College, which will be held at the Hackettstown Library. Archival members have just begun gathering information and images for this talk, which should take place in about two months.


A sleigh ride around Hackettstown


Commencement is fast approaching and we’re all sad to have to say goodbye to our seniors. Graduation at Centenary has changed a lot in 140 commencements, most noticeably the number of graduates. 426 students will be graduating at Centenary College’s May 2015 commencement, a far cry from the 26 that graduated at Centenary Collegiate Institute’s June 1876 commencement!

Commencement Program 18761876 commencement2

Top: Cover of the 1876 Commencement Program

Right: The inside of the 1876 Commencement Program. This program is interesting because it folds in half at the top, not at the left.

Centenary’s early commencements consisted of several dramatic performances by the graduates. In 1876, for example, eighteen graduates presented essays and orations, the last being the Valedictory Speech.

The last week of college has always been planned to hold some memorable events for graduating seniors. In the early years the students held Class Day, where their senior year was commemorated in speech and song.

Class Day program, 1878 The class song of 1878


Top: Class Day program, 1878

Right:The Class Song of 1878

Seniors would present a class history, prophecy, resolutions, class mementos, and sing the class song (every class had its own song, written by its students). Class Day evolved into a  talent show with less emphasis on Centenary history.

In the mid 1900s students held a ceremony called “Song on the Steps”. There was a tradition that stated only seniors were supposed to use the front steps of the Main Building, so the ceremony was intended to ‘give’ the steps to the freshmen, as they became the next class of seniors (Centenary College was a two year school then). Seniors would congregate on the steps and sing a few songs, including their class song, and then file off the steps to make way for the freshmen, who would take their place on the steps and sing their class song. There was more singing by the two classes to end the ceremony.

Songs on the Steps May 31 1965_2

Songs on the Steps, May 31, 1965. The Seniors are in line on the left side of the driveway, freshmen on the right.

Songs on the Steps May 31 1965

Another view of the students during the May 31, 1965 Songs on the Steps. Students are lined up on the driveway in front of the Seay Building, which used to be a real driveway used by the college.

One event that has continued into the present day is the President’s Ball. It’s a dance now, but 75 years ago it was the President’s reception and President’s dance. Today’s commencements combine a lot of the activities students in years past would have held over two or three days, so the reception might have been merged with commencement over the years.

Graduating class of 1936

Graduating class of 1936

The Valedictory Address of 1886 begins with these words:

“To-day there is a sadder task to perform than here-tofore. Welcome brings with it joy and greeting- farewell sorrow and parting.”

Although commencement is a time to say goodbye, it’s also a time to look back fondly at the time spent at your Alma Mater, and look forward at what’s to come. Although we are sad to see our seniors go, we are excited for them as they take on whatever comes next.


The President's House

The house in the early 2000s.

One week ago, a fire of indeterminate cause consumed this building, known to the Centenary College community as “The President’s House”. Many nearby fire departments and agencies responded to the 4:45 pm call, and battled flames until well after midnight.  Their hard work and tenacity could not prevent the house from being severely damaged, but undoubtedly prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring homes – not a small feat when you consider the obstacles they had to overcome: intense winds threatened to carry flames to close-by structures and bitter cold caused some of their equipment to freeze!

There has been no decision yet as to the future of this house. It’s been such an important part of Centenary’s history and actually has a very interesting history of its own! The building that Centenary College knows as “The President’s House” was originally part of a much larger home called “Brightstowe”, built in the 1890s by Wheeler Hazard Peckham. The mansion, located in the wealthy Normandy Park section of Morristown, had been sold to railroad baron William M.V. Thorne in the early 1900s. Thorne intended to destroy the building and build an even bigger mansion in its place. Before the Peckhams signed over the title to Thorne, Mrs. Peckham hired carpenters to restore and repair Brightstowe – even though she knew Thorne was going to flatten it!

October 1945

The house in 1945, looking from Moore Street towards Centenary College. You can see the main building peeking out through the trees on the right.

The Hoffman family learned of the mansion’s impending demolition and had Brightstowe dismantled and parts of it shipped to Hackettstown, where it was reconstructed as 407 Moore Street. Hoffman had enough leftover materials to build a house next door for his mother. Other parts of Brightstowe went elsewhere; the center doors were said to have gone to a funeral home on Speedwell Avenue.

February 19, 1964

One of the front doors of The President’s House. The house’s address is 407 Moore Street. Centenary College uses 401 Jefferson Street as its address.

401 Jefferson Street

The Jefferson Street entrance, c. early 2000s.

According to an alumni publication from August 1945, Centenary College – then known as Centenary Junior College – purchased the house from the Hoffman family in 1945. The Hoffman family had built the house facing Moore Street but Centenary College considered the main entrance of the President’s House to be on Jefferson Street, facing the campus.

The three-floor home boasted 17 rooms and five fireplaces. The foyer of the house featured an enormous mural painted by Maria Haydon-Buttner, a Centenary art major from the Class of 1985. The mural depicts local scenes of the school and its students.

Jefferson Street Entrance Hall

The Jefferson Street Foyer in May 28, 1987

pres res Jefferson St Entranceway, mural

Looking into the house from the Jefferson Street Foyer. 1990s

pres res closeup of mural

A close-up of part of the mural.

In the dining room there was Indonesian wood paneling, and the rugs there and in the two parlors were made especially for the house.

Dining Room

The dining room as it looked in 1945.

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The dining room as it looked in the 1990s.

Beyond the kitchen, the breakfast room included a pressed tin ceiling.

pres res Kitchen

Looking from the kitchen into another room (possibly the breakfast room?). 1990s

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Another portion of the kitchen, a long narrow room that stored kitchenware. 1990s

The back parlor of the home had beautiful woodwork trim and an open stairway dominated by a stained glass window.

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A photo of students in the back parlor. 1955

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President and Mrs. Seay with students in the back parlor in 1959

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The back parlor as it looked in the 1990s

Back Parlor, stairwell

The back parlor and stairwell of the President’s House in the 1990s.

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The staircase from the back parlor in May 28 1987

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The second floor landing, looking at stained glass windows. 1990s

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The Front Parlor in 1945

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The Front Parlor. May 28 1987

Seven presidents used the house, although not every president chose to live in it. The first president to live in the house was President Hurst R. Anderson, who resided there between 1945-1948. The list that follows contains the name of each president and their years of residence/use: Edward W. Seay, 1948-1976; Charles H. Dick, 1976-1984; Stephanie Bennett-Smith, 1984 – 2001; Kenneth Hoyt, 2001-2008; and the current President, Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, 2008-present (President Lewthwaite did not use the President’s House as a primary residence, so there was no one inside when the fire started).

Here follows several pictures of students at the President’s House. President Seay held a monthly Birthday Tea for all students and faculty who celebrated birthdays that month. Often guests of the college would also attend. Many former students have fond memories of their time in the President’s House.

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President and Mrs. Seay welcoming guests, 1959.

Birthday Tea

Students waiting in line for tea in 1960

pres res Miss Forbes and Midori Iaoki

October 23, 1960: Miss Forbes hands a cup of tea to Midori Iaoki during the first birthday tea of the school year.

First student birthday gathering of the year

October 21, 1961: President and Mrs. Edward W. Seay entertain students, faculty, and guests at tea. Standing from left to right: Martin Bry-Nildsen, Mrs. Seay, Mrs. Norman Grayson, mezzo-soprano Miss Doris Okerson (Mrs. Martin Bry-Nildsen) President Seay, and Norman W. Grayson, chairman of Centenary Junior College’s fine arts division.

pres res 1962, 12,12 freshmans Grace Helden, Norman Cousins, Virginia Dando, Ann Crissman

November 11, 1962: Guest of honor, Norman Cousins, editor of the “Saturday Review” talking to freshman Grace Helden at the first birthday gathering of the school year. Looking on are freshmen Virginia Dando and Ann Crissman.

pres res Dayna Kinley, Mrs. Seay, and Joan Thompson

November 11, 1962: Mrs. Edward W. Seay, makes a hostess check with freshmen Dayna Kinley and Joan Thompson.

The Bulletin of Centenary Junior College, August 1945, pgs 6, 8.