Known to generations of Hamiltonians for her warm hospitality, Silvia Saunders was born in 1901 and raised on the Hill with her parents Louise and Arthur Percy Saunders, longtime professor of chemistry and dean. The Saunders family created in their home on Griffin Road a social center on the edge of campus where for many decades cultural conversation and musical interest flourished.
Following her graduation from Radcliffe, Silvia Saunders embarked on a career in New York City as a commercial artist and later as a photographer. In 1951, after spending several years in New Mexico, she returned to College Hill to take care of her elderly parents and especially help her father with his hybrid peony business, which was known to horticulturalists throughout the world. She maintained the family legacy of opening their home — which she dubbed “the Williams Farmhouse” after Isaac Williams, its early 19th-century builder — for annual Christmas parties, May wine parties and informal gatherings of students and faculty members. She also took an active role in the cultural life of the College, greeting guests at most every theater performance, music concert and art exhibition. In 1977 her contributions were recognized with the Alumni Association’s Bell Ringer Award, and in 1995, one year after her death, the Saunders family home was dedicated in her honor as a student residence.