A short history of the Dartmouth College Green

Submitted 25 days ago
Created by
Bob Totz

The students herded the cattle into the basement of Dartmouth Hall!

     While doing some research for my previous blog entry, I came upon some interesting local history:
     Dartmouth College, founded in 1769, will turn 250 years old in 2019.  Eleazar Wheelock, who founded the college had migrated to the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River from Lebanon Connecticut, where he had been engaged as a minister and teacher of indiginous people.  When Eleazar Wheelock came to the area, the Upper Valley was a wilderness.  Dartmouth's motto, "Vox Clamantis in Deserto", which  literally means "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" is quite appropriate.
     The Dartmouth Green, formerly known as “The Campus”, was originally a forested area, mostly pine, with a swampy area in the northwest corner.   Some ancient trees on the knoll were said to reach higher than 250 feet!The 5-acre parcel now known as The College Green was one of the earliest additions to the property owned by the college.      In 1819 an important Supreme Court decision kept Dartmouth as a private institution.  This was a precedent setting case and had a huge impact on the subsequent development of the College.      Clearing the Campus of trees was not an easy task.  In fact it took years to get it cleared, leveled and seeded for lawn.  The graduating senior classes, for many years, were responsible for removing one stump from the green.  It wasn’t until 1831 that the Green was finally cleared of the last stump.

 During those early years, the Green doubled as a place for locals to pasture their cattle.  At one point the Dartmouth students rebelled, and herded all the cattle into the basement of Dartmouth Hall!  That must have been something to see!  A fence was later added in order to keep the animals out, and reserve the area for students and the public.
     In 1836, the Green was cleaned up, leveled, seeded for lawn, and a fence was constructed around the area.

      In 1873 the town of Hanover moved the southern leg of the fence, and seized thirty feet of the southern border of the Green in order to straighten out the intersection of East and West Wheelock streets.  Previously, if you wanted to get from the center of Hanover to the Lyme road, the “road” went diagonally from the SW corner to the NE corner of the Green, where one of the footpaths are today.  After the fence was built, the “road” had to go around the green.
The fence was removed in 1893, but later that year the southern and western portions were restored.


Baseball on the College Green

Since the early days, the Green was used for athletic events, (cricket, baseball, football, etc).  Today the College Green is used for the annual Homecoming Bonfires, Christmas Tree displays, Pow-wows, sunbathing, frisbee playing, studying, visiting with friends, and just plain relaxing.  

"Wentworth St.  Jan 20, '97

Eventually the plot of land was officially named  “The College Green” although it had also been called “The Common”, “The Campus”, and the “College Square”.

Thanks again to the Dartmouth College Libraries for photos.

Thanks also to "The Upper Valley", by Jerold Wickoff, and Wikipedia

You may like my companion piece to this:  A music/video  "Going Back to College In My Dreams"   dailyuv.com/972456;  and two other music videos:

  "The Montreal Express"  at dailyuv.com/971839;  also

"And Everything Reminds Me of You"  dailyuv.com/972267

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