Founder’s Day Established

The tradition of “Founder’s Day” is born. For Mrs. Wheaton’s 80th birthday on September 27, 1889, the teachers resolve to celebrate a “Wheaton Fete Day.” Classes are suspended, students decorate the parlors with autumn foliage, and at an evening “rose fete,” the teachers and students present Mrs. Wheaton with eighty roses.

This tradition continued even after Mrs. Wheaton’s death, as students placed roses under her portrait. The day was often the occasion for bringing important speakers to campus, including Robert Frost, Roscoe Pound, and Lewis Mumford. Over the years, the celebration became more formal, with students processing into the Chapel wearing white dresses and class color sweaters.

The tradition faded in the early 1960s along with many other campus traditions. It was revived in the mid-1980s and again in 2008. Mrs. Wheaton’s 200th birthday was celebrated on Founder’s Day in 2009 as part of the college’s 175th anniversary.

For more information, see Paul Helmreich’s remarks from Founder’s Day, 2009.