History of Cazenovia Seminary
Cazenovia in its early years, 1800 to 1815, had very few Methodist families. These families were serviced every six weeks by a traveling minister from the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Church. The old Court House in Cazenovia was used as a meeting place.
Around the year 1818, the court moved from Cazenovia to Morrisville and the building was for sale. The small group of Methodists outbid the Baptists and took possession of the building. They were then known as the Cazenovia Methodist Society. Unfortunately, they were unable to make the payments on the building and had to turn to the Genesee Conference for help. It was at this point that the Conference group decided to use the building as a Seminary.
The school opened on December 1, 1824, under the name "The Seminary of the Genesee Conference." Eight students were enrolled. Weekly religious services for Methodists were established in the building and enrollment quickly increased. After several name changes, the school eventually became "Cazenovia Seminary" in 1894.
During the years 1904 to 1931, Cazenovia Seminary also served as the high school for Cazenovia town residents. After the establishment of a town funded public high school, enrollment dropped at the Seminary. In 1942 with increasing financial burdens, the Methodist Church withdrew and the Seminary became Cazenovia Junior College. The name and focus changed again in 1961 to Cazenovia College for Women. It soon became coeducational again and by 1983 was given the right to grant baccalaureate degrees. Cazenovia Seminary continues today as Cazenovia College.
For further information, see Cazenovia College and also Christine O. Atwell's CAZENOVIA PAST AND PRESENT (MADISON COUNTY, NEW YORK) - A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village, 64 pp (1928), reprinted 1992, and includes Cazenovia's founding, early settlement, churches and early schools, including Cazenovia Seminary.
Julia Gillett Hendrick
January 20, 2004
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