Norwich Honors Cabot Family With rededication Ceremony
Speaking under the watchful eyes of Alden Partridge, a proud Louis Wellington Cabot recalled his friendship with General Harmon and his time spent as a Norwich Trustee at the Cabot Hall rededication ceremony, which took place on the Engineering, Math and Science Complex green on Thursday, April 27.
About 60 people turned out for the early evening event, at which Cabot, Norwich University President Richard Schneider and Trustee emeritus Phil Marsilius spoke. Cabot served as a Trustee between the years 1952 and 1977, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dr. Godfrey Lowell Cabot, whose Trustee term spanned from 1935 to 1962. The seven decade long relationship between Norwich University and the Cabot family was reflected during the ceremony in the jubilant retelling of the 85-year-old Cabot's memories.
"He [General Harmon] was very proud of White Chapel," Cabot said. "At the dedication ceremony, I walked in with him and by that time everyone was already seated, and as we were walking in, he turned to me and said in a his loud and gravely voice, 'Louis, isn't this the best goddamned chapel you ever saw?'"
In an interview after the ceremony, Cabot said he had met General Harmon in the early 1950s when his grandfather introduced the two of them. He said at that first meeting Harmon and Godfrey Cabot had already agreed that the younger Cabot would serve on the Norwich University Board of Trustees.
"It was just about the first thing I was ever asked to be the trustee of, so I was pretty flattered," Cabot said. "And I was about as unmilitary of a guy as you could be, though I was in the Navy in World War II. When I came out of the Navy, though, I was a total civilian. Then I met General Harmon, who was a real super military guy, and for some reason, he really took a shine to me."
Louis Cabot said during his tenure as a Trustee, the Board grappled with two big issues, and he is still proud of the decisions that were made. The first occurred shortly after the Vietnam War, when members of the Board of Trustees discussed whether or not Norwich should continue on as a military school.
"We eventually decided, no, we weren't going to discontinue the military aspect, because that was Norwich's unique thing, and I'm sure glad we didn't," Cabot said.
The second decision Cabot was an integral part of involved the acquisition of Vermont College and the move to a co-ed campus. Speaking about his visit to the campus last week, Cabot noted how impressed he was by how "completely coed" the school has become since his last visit over 20 years ago.
The Cabot family relationship with Norwich University dates back to the 1930s. At that time, Trustee Godfrey Cabot, a former World War I pilot, the founder of the Pennsylvania-based carbon black manufacturer, Cabot Corporation, and an aviation enthusiast, gave the college nearly a quarter million dollars for the establishment of the James Jackson Cabot Professorship of Air Traffic Regulations and Air Transportation. Shortly thereafter, Cabot increased the endowment substantially, stating "…that it is hoped there will be a General Department of Aeronautics which will increase the prestige of the college."
In 1938, Dr. Cabot also helped fund the construction of a new dormitory on the Upper Parade. Originally named Cabot Hall after Dr. Cabot's eldest son, the dormitory was built to accommodate 160 cadets. The building was subsequently renamed Dodge Hall in 1965 following the demolition of the original Dodge Hall. The Cabot family approved of the name change in part because the University had dedicated a second building to the family, The James Jackson Cabot Hall of Science, in 1952. An annex, popularly known on campus as the Cabot Annex, was later added to the Cabot Hall of Science. In the 1990s, the Cabot Hall of Science was razed and replaced by the Engineering, Math and Science Complex. At Thursday's ceremony, the Cabot Annex was formally dedicated as Cabot Hall in honor of Godfrey and Louis Cabot.
At the dedication ceremony, President Schneider explained how the dedication of the science-oriented hall was befitting of the Cabot name, a family committed to higher education and the sciences.
"This is one of our workhorse academic buildings," Schneider said. "It houses the largest and most technologically equipped classroom on the Norwich campus, as well as many of our science labs. Hundreds of students are in this building every day and it is the hub for undergraduate research at our University, which is becoming an increasingly important part of the learning experience at Norwich."
Although Cabot confessed he has not been close to the University since his term as a Trustee ended roughly 30 years ago, he said he thoroughly enjoyed his visit and felt proud that the Cabot family continues to be remembered and honored on The Hill.
"I'm more than pleased at how much recognition there is at Norwich for what my grandfather did for the University.