After more than 200 years, Dartmouth will once again own the property at 1 South Main St., the former home of the Casque & Gauntlet senior society, which Dartmouth on Wednesday purchased from the Casque & Gauntlet Trust.
The trust has donated the proceeds from the $2 million sale and other gifts to support President Sian Leah Beilock’s public commitment to creating dialogue across differences and initiatives that advance that goal.
Purchase of the federal-style brick building and land gives Dartmouth ownership of all four corners at the intersection of Wheelock and Main streets, the main gateway to Dartmouth.
The C&G land was first separated from Dartmouth by grant in 1771 for the purpose of creating a boarding house. When the C&G Trust acquired the building in 1894, student boarders paid $3.50 a week to live there.
The trust’s finances have always depended on student rent, but the cost of maintaining the building rose and financial pressures worsened over the past decade, with expenses significantly exceeding rental revenue and made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. This forced the trust to close the building to undergraduates in 2020 and rent it to Dartmouth.
Discussion regarding the sale began in 2022. In accordance with provisions of C&G Trust’s charter, the sale proceeds—and an additional $250,000 in gifts from the C&G Trust for a total of $2.25 million—was contributed to Dartmouth.
The similar purposes of the trust’s charter mission and the president’s enthusiasm for the importance of exposing students to divergent views allowed for the sale agreement to quickly take shape, say those involved in the negotiations.
“I’m delighted that 1 South Main St. has returned to Dartmouth,” said President Beilock. “We look forward to a thoughtful process that will examine potential future uses so the property may continue to serve an important purpose, reflecting its storied past.”
“In addition, we are extremely grateful for the meaningful gift from the trust to promote dialogue and the exploration of heterodox views, particularly among Dartmouth’s students,” she said.
Said Tom Tomai ’79, a C&G Trust member, “While I am sad that economic realities make it impossible for there to be a residential society at 1 South Main, I think it is providential that Dartmouth’s president made it a major pillar of her administration to give students more opportunity for respectful dialogue around divergent perspectives, a principle that parallels a core element of C&G’s historical mission. We hope that our recent actions and this legacy from C&G will be able to benefit all of Dartmouth and its wider communities.”
Dartmouth plans to initiate several stabilization efforts on the landmark property and determine its eventual use through a long-term planning process.
Until 2020, the building served as the home for C&G, Dartmouth’s last remaining residential senior society. At that time, the C&G student delegation created a separate, self-governing, nonresidential senior society that continues today. For more than 135 years, C&G has been a prestigious senior society, attracting many student leaders. The camaraderie that developed between members from different backgrounds and perspectives often opened minds and made lasting friendships.