Geneseo History 1871-1880

1869

Groundbreaking

Ground was broken for the Wadsworth Normal and Training School on June 15. Normal schools issued state-certified teaching credentials to students upon completion of two- or three-year academic and training programs.

Top row, left to right: Col. John Rorbach (Elizabeth "Wid" Adams and Judy Mendoza); William A. Brodie (Geneseo Masonic Lodge, reproduced by Daniel Fink); Col. John S. Strang (Geneseo Village/Town Historian). Bottom row, left to right: Lockwood Lyon Doty (Livingston County Historian); Brev. Col. Craig Wharton Wadsworth Sr. (Livingston County Historical Society, reproduced by Ronald Pretzer); James S. Orton (Livingston County Historian).

1869

Groundbreaking

1871

Old Main

students and faculty posed in front ofOld Main

The normal school’s first building, Old Main, was completed in April. Old Main’s design was adapted from Fredonia’s Normal School. The 11,418-square-foot, 3-story building was steam-heated, gas-lit, and had hot and cold running water. The top floor served as a boarding hall to female students who paid $3.50 per week for room and use of the laundry facilities. The boarding hall provided "parlors for students, assembly room, which might be used for calisthenics for lady students, lavatories, and sleeping apartments." Old Main stood for eighty years and was razed in 1951–52.

Students and faculty in the earliest extant photo of Old Main, taken before the chapel was added to the north end of the building in 1875. (Livingston County Historian)

1871

Old Main

1871

William J. Milne Named Principal

William S. Milne

Scotsman William J. Milne was appointed as the school’s first principal at 28 years old less than a month before opening. Having received his master’s and doctorate from the University of Rochester, Milne served as professor of ancient languages at Brockport State Normal School before his appointment at Geneseo. He served in this role until 1889.

1871

William J. Milne Named Principal

1871

Opening Bell

1871 faculty members and principal William Milne

Renamed from the Wadsworth Normal and Training School before it opened, the Geneseo Normal and Training School officially opened on September 13, with 71 certificate-seeking students, and offered programs in Elementary English, Advanced English, and the Classical Course.

1871 faculty members, including the 28-year-old principal William Milne. (The Lamron, 50th Anniversary)

1871

Opening Bell

1871

First Greek

Delphic Society members

The Delphic Society fraternity was founded.

Delphic fraternity members (Merrell photo, Livingston County Historian)

1871

First Greek

1872

Women’s Fraternity

Clionian Society members

The women’s Clionian fraternity was founded. Regardless of gender, Greek societies were known as “fraternities.”

A Clionian get-together at a boarding house (Livingston County Historian)

1872

Women’s Fraternity

1872

First Commencement

On July 1–2, Geneseo Normal and Training School held its first commencement with a graduating class of ten students. Mystery surrounds the graduating class at the end of the school’s first year. One assumption is that Principal William Milne brought senior students with him from Brockport. One of the ten graduates, Ephraim Welles, who went on to become Dr. Welles, returned to the school to teach and was father to the normal school’s graduate and later principal, James Welles (appointed in 1934), namesake of Welles Hall.

1872

First Commencement

1873–74

Enrollment Milestone

Enrollment reached over 300 for the first time at 307 students.

1873–74

Enrollment Milestone

1876

Normal Hall

Normal Hall added to the north end of Old Main.

1876

Normal Hall

1879

Class Gift

Hide and Duck, Whoop

The senior class presented the school with its first class gift: a John Rogers’s sculpture, Hide and Seek: Whoop!

1879

Class Gift

1880–81

Enrollment Milestone

Enrollment reached over 400 for the first time at 416 students.

1880–81

Enrollment Milestone