When John Henry Hobart, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, visited Geneva in 1818, he immediately knew that the bustling lakeside village was the perfect place to build what he called an, "outpost for civilized and learned behavior." He founded Geneva College, and its first building, Geneva Hall, was completed in 1822.
In its early years, the college was split into trimesters and offered a classical education, requiring that students pass courses in geometry, Latin grammar and Roman history. After 1834, students were also able to earn a medical education. By all accounts, Geneva College was a haven for a handful of quiet, studious men.
But by the time the institution was renamed in honor of its founder in 1852, campus had become much livelier, with lacrosse games against Native Americans spilling off the Quad and into the local neighborhood.
Pranks were also a common occurrence. Cows were sometimes found in the Chapel for 5:30 a.m. service, cannon balls frequently thundered down the halls of Geneva and Trinity Halls at night and it was not at all unusual for a Professor to find himself locked in his classroom.