Oldest things at Kent State

Megan Wilkinson

Kent State University’s Centennial celebrates Kent’s 100-years of existence. With all this talk of age and years, one may wonder about the school’s history. Many of the rocks on campus date back billions of years; several of the buses students ride around campus are nearly 24 years old. Every day, students may not realize all the rich history they pass by on their way to class.

Oldest Rock on Campus

According to Professor Neil Wells with the Kent State Geology Department, some of the oldest rocks on campus could be nearly 2.5 billion years old. Wells estimates that the boulder outside the DuBois Bookstore is around 1.8 billion years old. This and most of the other bigger, natural rocks on campus came to Ohio as a result of glaciers melting in the ice age.

Additionally, many of the rocks in the river by downtown Kent come from the Pennsylvanian Period, which makes them around 315 million years old. They were a part of the Sharon Conglomerate and are made of sandstone, Wells said.

“You can’t necessarily tell a rock’s age by looking at it,” Well said, “but once in a while you will find a rock that is so distinctive that you can figure out its relative age.”

Oldest Building – Merrill Hall

This building was built in 1913 as an administration building. It is dedicated to Frank Merrill, who is a Kent State University trustee. Today, Merrill Hall houses Kent State’s sociology department.

Oldest Dormitories Still Standing – Engleman

This Hall was dedicated to James Orzo Engleman in 1938, but the university remodeled the dorms in 1999. The dorms are currently modeled in apartment style and students over the age of 21 are permitted to have alcohol in the dorms. However, this hall only allows residents with 60 or more credit hours.

Oldest Major – Teaching and Education

Originally, Kent State University was founded to be a Normal School for teachers in the area. When on-campus courses began in 1913, the majority of students were females trying to earn their teaching degrees.

Nearly a century later, freshman middle childhood education major Ben Leasure said he specifically chose to attend Kent for its strong education curriculum. He likes that Kent has been teaching education courses for the past 97 years.

“It shows their pedigree in the field,” Leasure said. “If I’m not mistaken, Kent had the first Normal School in Ohio.”

Oldest Club – Kent State Geological Society

This organization began in 1949. Last year, the group celebrated its 60th Anniversary. The group allows all undergraduate students to be a part of their group’s monthly meetings. Their next meeting will be held at 5:15 Thursday in Room 331 McGilvrey Hall to discuss upcoming group events.

Oldest Fraternity – Delta Upsilon

Originally known as Kappa Mu Kappa, Delta Upsilon is the oldest fraternity at Kent State University. Kappa Mu Kappa was founded in 1921 as a “non-secret men’s discussion club” according to the fraternity’s current president, Edward Walaszewski.

The fraternity changed to Delta Upsilon in 1948 because the group’s traditions were more similar to that nationally recognized fraternity. Their motto is Dikaia Upotheke, which means Justice Our Foundation, said Walaszewski.

Today, the Kent Chapter of Delta Upsilon has 40 members and 22 associates. Just last year, the fraternity won best fraternity of the year. Walaszewski is proud of the frat’s improvement compared to the past several years.

“Things have completely changed with the frat since I joined,” he said, “and we’ve done a 180 for the better.”

Oldest Sorority – Chi Omega

Formerly known as Kappa Lambda, Chi Omega began in 1947.

Oldest Restaurant in Kent – Ray’s Place

Ray Salitore opened Ray’s Place in 1937 as a small restaurant on Franklin Avenue. The restaurant has stayed in business for 73 years. Since its foundation, Ray’s Place has had only four different owners.

Both the building and its menu have grown through the years. Even when it was going through renovations in the past, the restaurant has always found a way to remain open to the public.

Ray’s Place is well known for its burgers, fries and chili. Current owner Charlie Thomas recommends the Mofo Burger, which is a two-patty burger with all the works and 12 ounces of meat.

Thomas has been the owner for 32 years now. He has seen the menu expand and the dining facility change since he started at Ray’s Place.

“In this business, you have to change,” Thomas said, “if you don’t, you won’t make it. We’re constant change, but [we] remain the same.”

Oldest Book in Library – Aureola ex Floribus by St. Hieronymous

This ancient book includes the texts of St. Hieronymous, also known as St. Jerome, and was put together between 1470 and 1472. Aureola ex Floribus is written all in Latin. It is the earliest printed book that can be found in the Kent State Special Collections library. St. Jerome made revisions to the Bible and included some letters in the book. Although this 40-page text cannot be borrowed from the library with a student ID, students can still visit the library archives on the 12th floor to view the book along with other ancient works of literature.

Oldest PARTA Bus – #6697

PARTA Bus #6697 is a 1986 Gillig Phantom with a Detroit Diesel 6V92 engine. According to PARTA Bus Driver Andrew Knowlton, the engine in this bus is no longer in production. Although the bus is from 1986, the interior was reconditioned in 2006.

“Some people say this bus breaks down a lot,” Knowlton said, “but I can’t say it breaks down any more than some of the others.”

Knowlton said this bus must be kept in really good condition because it goes on the Cleveland Express route every Friday. Knowlton said that #6697 “is one of the more reliable” 40-foot PARTA buses because of its age.

You can contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].