Merrill House: A Brief History



Merrill House is perhaps the most beautifully decorated property on campus. Barely visible from Broad Street, it is tucked away between the Admissions Office and the Campus Safety building. Artfully adorned, the house was once the residence of President George Edmands Merrill of Colgate University.

President Merrill created a legacy at Colgate University from the moment he arrived in Hamilton on January 25, 1899. The President’s House, as it was known then, was completed in 1900 and was the gift of James B. Colgate, who died at the age of 85 in 1904. The President of Colgate now resides in Watson House, next to the Observatory.

Merrill House currently contains the Alumni Office and the Faculty Club. The lower floor has been transformed into a restaurant for staff and faculty use. A full-time chef prepares meals during the school year. Alumni and other guests are also invited to Merrill House for special events, and certain religious student groups convene there regularly.

One example of the Merrill House’s current use occurred on last Tuesday. Incoming international students, some of whom had arrived at Colgate only a few hours before, were invited to lunch and dinner at Merrill House before starting International Orientation last Wednesday. When the students got to peek inside Merrill House, they may have noticed that a bit of Colgate’s history is written on all four walls of the dining room. The story is of Colgate’s name change from Madison University to Colgate University in 1890. Thus, Merrill House is a piece of Colgate history twice, both as the residence of a prominent president, and a portal to a time when somebody first said, “Rah, rah, Colgate!”