Hiram College’s English Department is housed in historic Bonney Castle, a nineteenth-century inn that has been renovated to include a multimedia-equipped seminar room, a small library, a fully-equipped kitchen, and departmental offices. Bonney Castle is also home to the Hiram Poetry Review. Its lovely gardens provide a peaceful spot for outdoor class meetings or study time. Throughout the year, the English Department hosts dinners, poetry readings, professional workshops, and other events on the Bonney Castle grounds and in the cozy Bonney Castle parlor.
A beautiful location for learning
With the exterior renovated in 2016, Bonney Castle’s present interior configuration stems from a major renovation and restoration undertaken between 1970 and 1972 when the entire building was given over to the English Department. The interior was substantially rearranged, with the narrow and treacherous central staircase giving way to a more practical one, which necessitated, however, the closing of the third floor (which can be reached only by a narrow pull-down ladder).
When John Bonney built his inn in the early 1850s in order to accommodate the swelling population of Hiram brought about by the founding of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College) in 1850, little could anyone have imagined the variety of uses it would be put to for a century and a half. Inn, boarding house, dormitory, faculty club, and eventually an office building for the Honors Program, Philosophy Department, and the English Department, Bonney Castle has undergone many transformations.
To the left of the entrance is the Cannon Sitting Room, named in memory of Lee and Irma Cannon who taught at Hiram from 1916 until their retirements in 1956 and 1954, respectively. The corner cupboard has been in Bonney Castle for as long as anyone can remember; many other furnishings in the room came from the estate of Edna and Glen (Class of 1919) Oswalt. This room is frequently used for social events and classes.
Bonney Castle’s seminar room is named for Professor Neil Schrader, who taught from 1955 until his untimely death in 1961. Classes take place here daily, and it is regularly the site of department and college social activities, including paper presentations and the English Department annual picnic.
The second floor of Bonney Castle houses offices of English Department faculty and the John Samuel Kenyon (Class of 1898) Library, honoring the linguist who brought much attention to Hiram during his lifetime and since. The books in the library are available as reference works for English Department students and faculty. The library also regularly hosts department and college committee meetings.
The garden behind Bonney Castle is a mature garden that originated with a class of students led by John Shaw in the spring of 1974. Highlights in the garden are the Hester Crawford Herb Garden, which memorializes a notable plantswoman who lived for many years at Bunnydale Farm near Hiram and a bench in memory of Brainerd Stranahan, who taught from 1968 until his death in 1989. The northwest quadrant of the garden is in memory of George T. Morgan (Class of 1969). The garden is maintained by the Hiram Public Gardens.