June 26, 2002 | Kenyon College's Class of 2002 helps reclaim Kenyon land with class gift
GAMBIER, OHIO--A gift from the graduating Class of 2002 has helped Kenyon College acquire almost twenty-three acres of picturesque land along the Kokosing River less than a mile from the Kenyon campus. Bordered by the Kokosing and Big Run Road, the parcel was once purchased by Philander Chase, who founded the College in 1824. The land is near where Chase's water-powered mill stood at one time.
The land is contiguous with other property that will eventually become a Knox County park. When the county built a new concrete and steel bridge several years ago over the river on Big Run Road, it decided to leave the old iron bridge standing as a centerpiece of the planned park.
This spring, Kenyon's senior class voted overwhelmingly to make its class gift the purchase of real estate to aid in protecting Gambier's rural character from encroaching development. After the vote, Neil Hall of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, head of the class gift committee, contacted Douglas L. Givens, managing director of the Philander Chase Corporation, for advice on how to go about buying nearby real estate.
"I thought it was just an awesome class gift," says Givens. Knowing the amount would not be enough to buy a large parcel around Gambier, he assumed the donation would become part of a general fund used to purchase land for Kenyon at a later date. During this spring's dedication of the College's new science complex, Givens mentioned to an alumnus that the Class of 2002 hoped to buy land for the College. The alumnus was so pleased with the idea that he volunteered to donate the balance needed upon choosing a suitable parcel. Early the next morning, Givens drove the anonymous benefactor to see several possible sites. They agreed the property owned by Raymond J. and Cathy J. Adamski was ideal.
Hall was thrilled with the choice. "The class was truly united in the desire to protect the character of Gambier, and the fact that this was land once bought by Philander Chase made the gift even better. The idea that we were helping to return this land to Kenyon got people excited," says Hall. A plaque to be placed at the site will memorialize two members of the class who died as undergraduates, James Bunn and Emily Murray. It will also include these words: "First purchased by Philander Chase in 1826, this land was returned to Kenyon College with the assistance of a gift from the Class of 2002."
"Everyone in the class was happy with the gift," says Cheryl L. Steele, associate dean of students. "Remembering James Bunn and Emily Murray was important to the entire Kenyon community, but especially to the Class of '02."
To commemorate the gift, an oversized check for $3,000 was presented to Thomas R. Sant and Anne C. Griffin, representing the Philander Chase Corporation's directors, at the College's annual senior/faculty dinner.