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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.