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I present this extensive list of useless yet interesting trivia about my alma mater, SUNY Plattsburgh. Send a link to this post to other Plattsburgh State alumni you know!
( The URL of this post is http://www.theusualsusspects.com/blog/2007/01/suny-plattsburgh-trivia/ )
- Before the State University of New York System was founded, SUNY Plattsburgh was named the Plattsburgh Normal and Training School, a teaching and nursing school.
- Teaching is still the largest major at SUNY Plattsburgh.
- The original Plattsburgh Normal School was a two-year non-selective institution. To demonstrate how non-selective it was, the requirements for enrollment were as follows:
To gain admission to the school, pupils must be at least sixteen years of age, and must possess good health, good moral character and average abilities.
- If the Plattsburgh Normal School had not been built, Plattsburgh would most likely have had settled for a state insane asylum instead. (Insert your own jokes here.)
- The Plattsburgh Normal School burned completely to the ground on January 26, 1929. It took more than three years to replace the original structure.
- Often mistaken for Hawkins Hall, the structure on the left side of the current SUNY Plattsburgh seal is actually the central tower of Normal Hall.
- Also seen in the official seal is the year 1889. It was founded in 1889 but the school didn’t actually open for classes until 1890.
- In 1904, Plattsburgh was shut out by Potsdam in a basketball game by a score of 123-0. Now that’s what I call an ass-kicking!
- For decades, Plattsburgh was the #3 nuclear strike target of the Soviet Union, right after Washington, DC and NORAD. Plattsburgh was strategically essential because the quickest route for military aircraft to reach Moscow was over the arctic circle, but those aircraft would need to be refueled along the way by the Plattsburgh Air Base, which specialized in those mid-air maneuvers. The large siren on campus at the intersection of Broad and Rugar was an air raid specifically to warn of a nuclear attack.
- Due to it’s immense dimensions (over 3 miles long) and double-thick tarmac, the runway at the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base was capable of landing the Space Shuttle. That fact had nothing to do with the college but it’s still pretty cool.
- MacDonough Hall has long been rumored to be haunted. The legend is that the basement of MacDonough Hall was once the morgue for the old city hospital that used to exist near Champlain Valley Hall. This story is completely false! MacDonough Hall opened in 1951 as a dormitory and has never served any other purpose.
- So then what’s the deal with the catacombs under MacDonough Hall? Aside from maintenance purposes, the labyrinth of catacombs below the dormitory also served as a network of bomb shelters. (See “Plattsburgh was Soviet target #3″) There are several places around the building where you’ll find air vents to the underground bunkers.
- So then what about the ghosts? I’m not about to tell you whether or not MacDonough Hall is haunted but here are two facts to consider:
1) Two pre-Revolutionary War gravestones were unearthed on the site during the building’s construction.
2) The field behind MacDonough Hall was used as a public hanging grounds for the nearby Plattsburgh Arsenal which was destroyed (along with most of the surrounding area) by the British raid of July 30, 1813.
3) In October of 2007, “paranormal investigators” were brought in at the request of school R.A.s to investigate reported hauntings in MacDononough Hall. They reportedly recorded a mysteriously unexplained female voice whispering either “wait” or “hate.”
- Champlain Valley Hall was once Champlain Valley School of Nursing, the residence hall and school for nursing students training at the city hospital which used to exist on Rugar Street.
- Before Feinberg, Redcay Hall once served as the central library on campus.
- The college bookstore used to be the campus cafeteria. Before that the cafeteria used to be located in the basement of MacDonough Hall.
- In addition to a couple of underground tunnels that remain open to students, there is another underground tunnel that connects Algonquin Dining Hall all the way to the Angell College Center. This tunnel is now closed to students and only available to maintenance workers.
- The Rockwell Kent Art Gallery is the largest collection of Kent’s artwork outside of Russia.
- The Nina Winkel Sculpture Gallery within the Myers Fine Arts Building is the second-largest gallery in North American dedicated to the art of one woman.
- Yokum Hall was once home to the region’s PBS television affiliate, WCFE. In 1987 WCFE moved to a new studio, donating their previous studio and equipment to the communications department.
- It is a well known legend that if a virgin ever graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh that the eagle atop the MacDonough Monument in downtown Plattsburgh would take off and fly away. The eagle is still there.
- The campus radio station WQKE “The Quake” used to be known as WPLT “The Pilot” in respect to the Plattsburgh Airforce Base. In 1997 the college sold those call letters to a station in Detroit that wanted to brand itself as “The Planet”. Before WPLT, the original campus station call letters were WSUP… as in “WhatS UP”.
- Peter Frampton’s classic rock hit song Do You Feel Like We Do, from the best-selling live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive! was recorded live at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Memorial Hall (not the Field House) on November 22, 1975. So next time you listen to that song remember that all those screaming fans are actually SUNY Plattsburgh students.
- On July 10, 1976, the campus served as the official staging area for the United States Olympic Team before leaving for the Summer Olympics in Montreal. President Gerald Ford visited SUNY Plattsburgh to address the Olympic team at rally outside the Field House.
- SUNY Plattsburgh shut down for an early spring break in 1980 for the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Over 800 Plattsburgh students were hired to work at the Olympics, and were bussed back and forth from the campus daily.
- The reason SUNY Plattsburgh always has spring break during St. Patrick’s Day stems from a St. Patrick’s Day riot in downtown between drunken students and drunken townies. New York State Troopers had to be called in to restore order, and dozens of students were arrested. Following the melee, the Mayor demanded that the college always hold its spring break to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day so that most students would be out of town and away from downtown.
- Playboy Magazine once named SUNY Plattsburgh one of the top party schools in the entire country. It took the school years to shake that national reputation.
*[Exact year unknown.]
Want more SUNY Plattsburgh Trivia? Check out “SUNY Plattsburgh Trivia II”.