Only one building on campus can properly exemplify the environment first-year students should find themselves in when they first live on campus. It’s one building that takes all hopes for a luxurious lifestyle and tosses them in the Merrimack. One building so bland, that the color grey would say it looks dull. A building that couldn’t even escape a name that bore the burden of inevitable irony. New Castle.
Anyone who has lived or passed by there will recognize that New Castle is neither new nor a castle. In fact, it would be more comparable to a castle’s servants’ quarters.
The exterior of the building will have those living in denial saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” and that is a completely reasonable and true statement. The inside, however, fails to raise the bar that was set rather low by the exterior. The design and materials used on the interior of New Castle instill a feeling of nostalgia for walking through the halls of a middle school circa 2006.
The rooms are about the size of the walk-in closet everyone dreams of having one day, and taking up a good chunk of space in those rooms are beds that will have you sleeping two comfortable feet off the ground; perhaps a metaphorical representation of how first-year students are now building their future from the ground up. Deeper meaning or not, the beds eliminate loads of potential storage space offered by beds that can be raised.
New Castle is also the only residence hall that helps you fight off the freshman 15. Those living on the fourth floor will need to develop a tolerable relationship with stairs as the elevator is only accessible with a special key. If there were ever the need for an indication of what generation the building was originally catering to, that would be it.
Even so, New Castle has the most personality on campus.
At a time when SNHU’s bank accounts looked like Smaug’s resting chamber, massive construction and renovation projects were creating a new, modern environment around campus. The result was a school where every student had a nice, relatively modern place to live. This sounds great on paper and even out loud, but what are the developmental implications of such a change?
Adversity breeds creativity and those who explore the halls of New Castle will see levels of creativity unmatched in any other residence hall. The magic of New Castle lies with its residents and their impressive ability to take a blank, dated and arguably cramped canvas, and paint a masterpiece of socialization and personalization.
When creating a home and community out of New Castle, the residents do much more with much less than other students. They aren’t given modern kitchen equipment, there are no pretty LEDs making the building look like the inside of a gaming student’s desktop, and there won’t be any amazing parties thrown there, but it’s bursting with personality from a young, energetic and social community of people.
As more of the old campus gets torn down and changed, SNHU loses more places like New Castle where luxury was a foreign concept, but personality and fun to be had were generously supplied.
Having once looked out at the social hub of campus with Greeley, Whittier, and the old quad, New Castle now stands alone in its own corner of the Westside like the last person to die or move out of a once close-knit community.
Perhaps it is the result of growing up in a time when children’s programs aggressively personified inanimate objects, but when looking at New Castle, it’s difficult to see it as anything other than a lone individual caught in between two generations.
New Castle is no Kingston. It’s not even a Tuckerman, as these halls are Disney World compared to New Castle which resembles Woodstock. They may be more modern and organized, but everyone knows where the better time is to be had.