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Rosse Hall, originally called Rosse Chapel, was the College's (and much of the village's) meeting place for religious services from 1829 until the completion of Kenyon's "new" chapel, the Church of the Holy Spirit, in 1871. Although it was not officially secularized until 1896, Rosse was fitted out as a gymnasium in 1884 and served that purpose for many years before and after an 1897 fire that gutted the building. During much of this time, it was also used as a gymnasium by the Harcourt Place School for Girls, an affiliated institution, which closed during the Great Depression. After the College built its first fieldhouse in 1948, Rosse Hall was used as an auditorium and social hall. In 1975, the building's main floor was thoroughly renovated and restored for use as a concert hall and auditorium for large lectures and other gatherings.
It is also one of the College's most distinctive buildings, sometimes called "the stranger on campus" because it is basically a Classical-style temple surrounded by Collegiate Gothic structures. Rosse Hall is closely associated with some of Kenyon's most cherished traditions, including the "Freshman Sing," which takes place on its steps the evening before freshmen take their first classes, and the "Senior Sing," which takes place there the evening before Commencement. The building has also been a favored backdrop for class and reunion photographs for generations.
For alumni of the early 1970s, Rosse Hall is remembered as the place in which the entire College gathered in the days following the Kent State shootings of 1970 for an impromptu exercise in participatory democracy that was made famous at the time by columnist Robert Novak, who favorably contrasted the Kenyon response with the closings, demonstrations, and riots on other campuses. In addition, Rosse Hall is well known in the local community as the site of concerts, lectures, and other special events to which residents are welcomed, usually free of charge.
Rosse Hall's main floor is currently Kenyon's premier concert hall and auditorium. Its lower level, remodeled in 2000, houses faculty offices and studios for the Department of Music. Storer Hall, designed by architect Graham Gund and completed in 1999, is attached to the rear of Rosse Hall and serves as the music department's headquarters.
Rosse Hall is currently in very good condition. As one of Kenyon's treasures, occupying a central place on campus, much attention has been lavished on it in recent years.
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