Silliman YMCA


Silliman YMCA


Silliman Hall was built in 1900 to house the College’s YMCA and other student organizations, such as the Philomathean Society and the Adelphic Society. It was a gift from Horace Brinsmade Silliman (Union Class of 1846), who believed that “a pronounced Christian character and life is not alien from hearty good fellowship.” Silliman Hall was the first multi-purpose College building to be constructed on campus since Washburn Hall in 1883, and represented the start of President Raymond’s revitalization of the College. It was designed by Albert W. Fuller, the architect of the Alpha Delta Phi House in 1898, and later the College’s General Engineering Building. The hall provided student meeting rooms, a trophy room, and an apartment for the student president of the YMCA. In 1904, Silliman provided another $10,000 dollars for its maintenance.

As a personal friend of President and Mrs. Raymond, Mrs. Perkins was among the first in the campus community to hear information about the new building, which she in turn reported to her son Roger. In a letter from June 27, 1899, she wrote about the donation of a YMCA building by Mr. Silliman, noting that he did not want to draw attention to himself (he was not publicly acknowledged as the donor until a year later). Although Mrs. Perkins mentioned that the building would have a swimming pool, one does not seem to have been built. She considered the final design of the hall beautiful and was disappointed when pouring rain ruined the day of its dedication. The building’s proximity to the Perkins residence allowed Mrs. Perkins to observe not only its construction, but also many of events eventually held there, including concerts and receptions. One evening social, attended by her son-in-law, was meant to bring professors and students closer together. Mrs. Perkins watched from the house, writing, “From the bath room window we could see Silliman Hall a blaze of light and festive heads bobbing past the windows” (March 13, 1904).

Over the years, Silliman Hall has undergone many renovations; after the YMCA left the building, it provided a home for many other organizations. The building currently houses a variety of administrative offices.


These images are from the Union College Postcard collection. You can view both front and back of these postcards and more information in our digital collections database on New York Heritage below.


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