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William Smith College

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are located on 195 acres in New York state's Finger Lakes region in Geneva, New York, United States. They trace their origins to Geneva Academy established in 1797.


300 Pulteney St
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Bart, The Statesman/Ws Herons
Orange And Royal Purple
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College History


Hobart and William Smith Colleges, private colleges located in Geneva, New York, began on the western frontier as the Geneva Academy, founded by Rev. Henry Axtell. After some setbacks and disagreement among trustees, the Academy suspended operations in 1817. By the time bishop John Henry Hobart, of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, first visited the city of Geneva in 1818, the doors of Geneva Academy had just closed. Yet, Geneva was a bustling Upstate New York city on the main land and stage coach route to the West. Bishop Hobart had a plan to reopen the Academy at a new location, raise a public subscription for the construction of a stone building, and elevate the school to college status. Roughly following this plan, Geneva Academy reopened as Geneva College in 1822 with conditional grant funds made available from Trinity Church in New York City. Geneva College was renamed Hobart College in 1852 in honor of its founder. William Smith College was founded in 1908, originally as William Smith College for Women. Its namesake and founder was a wealthy local nurseryman, benefactor of the arts and sciences, and philanthropist. The school arose from negotiations between William Smith, who sought to establish a women's college, and Hobart College President Langdon C. Stewardson, who sought to redirect Smith's philanthropy towards Hobart College. Smith, however, was intent on establishing a coordinate, nonsectarian women's college, which, when realized, coincidentally gave Hobart access to new facilities and professors. The two student bodies were educated separately in the early years, even though William Smith College was a department of Hobart College for organizational purposes until 1943. In that year, following a gradual relaxation of academic separation, William Smith College was formally recognized as an independent college, co-equal with Hobart. Both colleges were reflected in a new, joint corporate identity under the name "The Colleges of the Seneca," Geneva Academy Geneva Academy was founded in 1796 when Geneva was just a little frontier settlement. It is believed to be the first school formed in Geneva. The area was considered "the gateway to Genesee County" and was in the early stages of development from the wilderness. On May 3, 1796, a special meeting was held, as recorded in town of Seneca records, and three commissioners were chosen to receive the moneys granted by the state for the "use of schools." On January 30, 1807, twenty-three "freeholders" of Geneva petitioned the Regents of the State of New York for the incorporation of Geneva Academy. The petition document is the oldest extant document in which the academy is mentioned by name, as follows; "Your petitioners beg leave further to represent that the real estate belonging to their Academy consists of a lot of land fronting the public square in the said village of Geneva, on which they have erected a building twenty-five feet by thirty-eight feet, and one and a half stories high, and that they have for upwards of two years past employed a gentleman of abilities, regularly graduated at Princeton College, who, together with an assistant, has the superintendence of upwards of sixty students." The petition was not granted and the academy remained without a charter until March 29, 1813. On August 7, 1809, the trustees of the academy announced the engagement of the Rev. Andrew Wilson, formerly of the University of Glasgow in Scotland as head of the school. He remained until 1812 when Ransom Hubell, a graduate of Union College, was made principal of the academy. He was engaged to teach the respective branches of literature on the following terms: First Class-Reading, writing and arithmetic, 2 dollars 25 cents per quarter; Second Class-English grammar, book-keeping, geography and mathematics, including geometry, mensuration, algebra, surveying, navigation and astronomy, 4 dollars per quarter; and Third Class-The Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages, 5 dollars per quarter. The tuition fees had to be payable in advance. In 1817, Hubbell was succeeded by the Rev. John S. Cook. On December 8, 1817, due to some "differences of feeling," a meeting of the board of trustees was held and it was decided that the academy operations should be suspended. A committee was appointed consisting of Rev. Henry Axtell, Dr. James Carter and David Cook, to take charge of the school building and allow use by "any respectable teacher" until the trustees came to a decision and resumed their duties. The first meeting after the suspension didn't take place until March 6, 1821, over four years later. It was called by trustee James Rees to announce that Trinity Church in New York City had bequeathed an endowment of $750 per annum to the school, specifically for the support of an academy at Fairfield, New York. One of the conditions of the grant from Trinity Church was that the residents of Geneva should erect a building for the accommodation of the "Branch Theological School." Another stipulation required that the site location be chosen by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hobart. Agreeable to the resolution, the bishop viewed several sites in Geneva and on March 17, 1821, he communicated to the trustees his selection of the college site. The Rev. Daniel McDonald D.D., formerly principal of the Fairfield Academy, was appointed principal of Geneva Academy. The academy reopened its doors on April 25, 1821, in a frame schoolhouse erected in 1817 in the rear of Trinity Church in Geneva. By 1822, Geneva had 1,700 inhabitants, 250 dwellings, a bank, land office and sundry shops and mills. It was the commercial center of the growing Finger Lakes region of New York state. Early pioneers felt the need of "education advantages" beyond what the academy could provide for their children. At the request of Trinity Church, they began raising funds using voluntary labor and subscription. "They boldly built Geneva Hall before they applied to the state for a charter." By the spring of 1822, sufficient community funds had been raised to complete Geneva Hall, a stone structure that is still in use today. Geneva College On April 10, 1822, Geneva College received a provisional charter. The State Regents of New York demanded the accumulation of funds yielding $4,000 per year before a permanent charter was granted. The college was accorded a three-year grace period to meet this requirement. The Regents granted the full charter on February 8, 1825, and at that time, Geneva Academy officially changed its name to Geneva College. Rev. J. Adams was president of the college as of 1827. Ad for Geneva College, 1841 Creative financing by the founders of Geneva College plagued their successors for several decades. In a marketing effort, the founders sent agents selling certificates, which for $100 entitled "the subscriber, his heirs and assigns, to the privilege of sending one student to the Geneva Academy (or to Geneva College) for 20 years, commencing from the date hereof or any time he choose." The certificates became known as "The Little Old Men of the Sea," because decade after decade they were turned in for redemption and caused much consternation for the college fathers. Times changed and the cost of education and the cost of living in Geneva soared, leaving quite a financial burden for the school. The last certificate showed up in 1930 and was honored by Hobart College. In 1824, a course in "practical business" was instituted, a creative concept during those days. "In direct reference to the practical business of life by which the Agricultural, the Merchant and the Mechanic may receive a practical knowledge of what genius and experience have discovered without passing through a tedious course of Classical Studies." This course was in addition to the traditional college program. The "English Course," as it was known, was a radical departure from long established educational usage and represented the beginning of the college work pattern found today.

College Specialty


�Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a student-centered learning environment, globally focused, grounded in the values of equity and service, developing citizens who will lead in the 21st century.�



George Washington Woodward (About 1828) Lawyer. US Congressman of Pennsylvania and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. George Washington Woodward Peter Myndert Dox (1833) Lawyer; Member of N.Y. State assembly; Judge of Ontario County Courts; Member of the U.S. House Representative of Alabama, 1869�1873. See also: Category:Hobart and William Smith Colleges alumni Frederick S. Lovell (1835), member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Union Brigadier General of the American Civil War. Charles J. Folger (1836) United States Secretary of the Treasury in the U.S. President Chester A. Arthur administration. Charles J. Folger United States Secretary of Treasury Rev.Henry Stanley (1841) Clergyman. Cornelius Cole (1847) Sacramento, California District Attorney and serving as both a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator. Instrumental in founding the California Republican Party, Cole was a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln and advanced the interests of the Pacific Railroad both personally and politically, which led to the construction of the intercontinental railroad. Albert J. Myer (1847) Father of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. A military officer assigned to run the United States Weather Bureau at its inception, was a founding member of the International Meteorological Organization, Albert J. Myer General Edward Stuyvesant Bragg (1848) Lawyer; U.S. House of Representatives and Senator of Wisconsin. Union Bridadier General of Iron Brigade of Civil War. Chairman of Committee on Expenditures in the Dept. of Justice and Committee of War Claims. Appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico. Appointed Consul General at Habana, Cuba, Hong Kong and China.



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