9/12/10 A while back Henry Scarfo and Jim Mulligan contacted me about the closing of Belknap College. These are some of the thoughts I passed along to them. They are meant to shed some light for our earlier alumni as to what happened that last final year. There are many stories that I hope others will share as we get closer to the reunion. Joe Ferraiolo



Hi Henry,



Joe Tutrone, Dick Garon and I were the guys who basically closed the lights and said the party was over. Joe and I sat on the Board of Trustees in 72/73 – 74. There was a lot of discussion that last summer as to whether to open for the 73-74 school year. Ed Dane was tired of pumping money into the place (can’t blame him) and Stewart Lamprey could see the property as a way to get the bills taken care of, and put a peaceful end to a noble adventure.



In early August the consensus of the group was to try to make a go of it, and the business office was instructed to announce we would open and to send out student invoices for the coming year. When students started to arrive in September for the opening of school, Joe and I were summoned to a Board meeting at Harts (the school opened on Tuesday, the meeting was on either Wednesday or Thursday). When we got there, the board sort of blindsided us with a meeting that was very cut and dried; the school would close in December. We both felt like we were at the Last Supper. We left the meeting and went to Dick’s apartment and let him know, as he was the head of the Student Association, as to what had transpired. We then had to figure out what to tell the students and what we felt would be the next course of action we should take.



After a rather sleepless night, we decided to try to take the Board to court for fraud. They accepted our money and would not fulfill their agreement to complete the year. We hired a lawyer, John Shortlidge from Keene (I believe), and essentially demanded that they live up to their end of the bargain. George Falardeau was the president at that time, and also served as the Board’s lawyer. He offered us as much support as he could, but not much else at that point. The faculty was not to my recollection doing much, although I may be wrong. There just seemed to be a lot of hand wringing until the student’s lawyer finally suggested that we sue the Board for the right to run Belknap College. This seemed to be a viable thought and with that crazy notion in our heads, we instructed John to file the papers which he did (to this day I still marvel that we did this and even more so that we pulled it off)



To make a long story short (for the time being), we were told in late October, early November that we could have the school. We formed an agreement with the faculty (Ed Meskeys Nancy Jane Jackson, and J. Paul Shenk) to run a Spring Semester under the name “The New School at Belknap”. We would have our own charter (still don’t know if we really did secure one), but could work under the name of Belknap College as a subsidiary. So if you want to be technical the school, as originally constituted, officially closed its doors in December 1973, but it continued under The New School at Belknap through May 1974. The new school held a registration in January and was able to attract 93 students. All classes were held at Kahle House and in May we held our graduation in the Church next to the Post Office. The last official graduating class had 21 Bachelor’s Degrees and 14 Associate Degrees conferred.



I’m sure there is much more that Joe T, Dick, Ed, Nancy-Jane and I could elaborate on and should at some later time. I have a box of stuff that I kept that may also be donated to the Town if they’re interested. I hope this helps for now and as far as I’m concerned, the class of 74 was the last one out the door and who turned out all the lights.

Leave a Comment

Log In To Submit A Post