As a tribute to a man whose generosity of mind and spirit helped lead to the creation of Hamilton College, the former Psi Upsilon house now bears the name Skenandoa House in honor of the Oneida Indian chief and friend of Samuel Kirkland.
The building opened this semester as a residence hall for 52 students and was rededicated in October. In addition to careful workmanship that restored the building's exterior to its original grandeur, the most notable feature is the environmentally sound -- or "green" -- technology incorporated throughout.
The building's temperature is controlled by a geothermal heating and cooling system. "Instead of a boiler to create heat, water circulates through 16 wells located under the house's front yard. The earth heats or cools the water depending on the season," said Bill Huggins, assistant director of construction. "This system is not only environmentally friendly, but cost-effective."
Efforts also were made to reuse much of the existing materials in the building. According to Huggins, workers actually "raised the roof" of the 82-year-old structure's porch instead of opting for new construction to expand the living space. In instances where materials were replaced -- such as some portions of the slate roofing -- natural materials were chosen.
The Skenandoa House is Hamilton's first residence hall with an elevator and air-conditioning, making it ideal for guests visiting campus in the summer for symposiums. The College expects the building to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council soon.
The Psi chapter of Psi Upsilon was originally formed as a local society known as Iota Tau before gaining national recognition in the winter of 1842-43, wrote Walter Pilkington in his 1962 book, Hamilton College: A History. In 1882 the chapter purchased a lot at "the top of Freshman Hill, at the crest of the first rise and curve." Forty years later, desiring a new location farther up the hill, the chapter purchased part of the old Anderson Farm property and moved into a new house in 1922. That structure served as the chapter house until 1995.