Across the street from Stoke Hall and on one of the most commonly used roads at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) sits a dated white house known as the Elizabeth DeMeritt House. If you have recently passed by the building, you may have noticed the parking lot is closed, and the building seems to be abandoned. This is because despite the proximity to campus and the university using the building, UNH does not own the house.
For years, the university has been leasing the building to use by various organizations and programs on a variety of occasions.
“We feel it makes sense to relocate the occupants into other campus facilities that are owned and maintained by UNH,” Vice President of UNH Facilities William Janelle said when asked about the Elizabeth DeMeritt House; because of this, all UNH programs in the building had to be moved.
The building holds a substantial amount of history dating back to the time of its construction in the 1930s. Originally known as the Practice House, the building was renamed after the Dean of Women from 1919-1932, Elizabeth DeMeritt.
DeMeritt was a dedicated educator who, “revived the College’s Big Sisters group, organized the Girls’ Student Advisor Council and was appointed a New Hampshire delegate to the Dept. of Superintendents in Washington, D.C.,” according to the UNH Library Archives.
In 1924, DeMeritt was awarded an honorary Master of Arts for her years of service and her gifted capability of guiding young women. After her passing in 1932, the building, was renamed the Elizabeth DeMeritt House in her honor.
Despite its current location on Garrison Avenue, the house was originally located on the corner of Ballard Street and Garrison Avenue but was moved in October of 1950 to make room for the buildings on campus today. Over the years, the building has been used by the university for several purposes including the practice house for the home economics course.
Most recently, the Elizabeth DeMeritt House was used as the main office for the Upward Bound program, a nation-wide program which assists high school students from low income families and potential first-generation college students in achieving their goal of attending college. By giving scholarships, grants and guidance to these students it allows for them to further their education and pursue opportunities that may not have been available to them previously.
Representatives from the Upward Bound program were unavailable for comment before the time of publication.
Since 1965, the program has helped several thousand students across New Hampshire receive a higher education and has played a pivotal role in the lives of the people they assist. Despite the relocation, Upward Bound will continue to help better the University of New Hampshire community in their new home on campus in Nesmith Hall.
As for the Elizabeth DeMeritt House, its future remains unknown. The house is currently up for lease and is at liberty of the owners, but no matter what happens to the building, the history of the building and the organizations which it housed will live on.