At the beginning of each new school year, Dickinson College’s students share in various traditions that are a part of the undergraduate experience. At opening convocation, first year students formally sign in to the college after walking up the “Old Stone Steps” of the historic Old West building and entering Memorial Hall. Old West has been at the center of Dickinson activity since 1805. In addition to the signing in ceremony at opening convocation, Old West is also witness to the graduation of its students, who process out of Memorial Hall and down the Old Stone Steps to receive their diplomas. Convocation and graduation are the only times that Old West’s doors are opened.
According to Dickinson College archivist James Gerencser, Old West was designed by Benjamin Latrobe (who also famously designed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.) The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1960’s. It is the most venerable college space, and the site of many important moments in the college’s history and in the lives of Dickinsonians.
Besides the convocation and commencement ceremonies, Dickinson students enjoy other moments in front of Old West, including Charter Day and the annual Stellfox Award photo which began with a photo taken with poet Robert Frost.