Photo pulled from Ann (DiGiulio) Eastman's photo album The photograph above is an image taken of Butler Court in the late 1950s. This was taken before Keene State College bought the land.

Theresa Derry

Time Capsule Editor

Since the 1967-1968 academic year, Butler Court has been a student residential neighborhood. For the past fifty-one years, Butler Court is where many students have lived and socialized. In fact, many students may call this neighborhood “their home away from home.” Fifty-seven years before Butler Court was occupied by students, my Italian ancestors settled on this street. In my perspective, these immigrants were the first  to call Butler Court “their home away from home.”

Shortly after the founding of Keene Normal School in 1909, my ancestors settled on the land that is now this campus. My great great grandparents, Carmine and Carmela Dintino, were the first of my ancestors to call Butler Court their new home. After their family settled in Keene in 1911, Carmine and Carmela resided at 76 Butler Court with three of their four children. Their eldest child, Antoinette, came to the United States later with her husband and children. After arriving to America, Antoinette and her family settled at 92 Butler Court. In 1919, Carmine and Carmela joyously celebrated two of their other children’s marriages. Their son Fiore eventually settled at 60 Butler Court with his wife Annie, and their daughter Annina resided at 82 Butler Court with her husband Giovanni.

This close knit community that my ancestors created was done intentionally. This section of Butler  Court eventually became known as “Little Italy.” The Italian immigrant community in Keene at this time of the twentieth century congregated into a vibrant neighborhood. These immigrants decided to reside on this street for two specific reasons. The first reason was due to their agricultural practices. The  rich farmland that was in this particular section of Keene allowed these Italians to keep practicing their livelihood, which was having abundant gardens.

The second reason that the Italian population settled on Butler Court was due to mobility. The first jobs that my ancestors had upon their arrival to Keene were working for the railroad and the Wilcox Comb Company. Both of these work sites were within walking distance from Butler Court, which was crucial as my ancestors were unable to drive.

When I have the opportunity to walk down Butler Court, my mind swarms with the stories that family members have told me about the impact that this neighborhood had on their lives. I always try to “approximate” the locations of the houses where my ancestors once lived.  Butler Court is more than just a dead end street, it is the place that my ancestors once called “their home away from home.”

Theresa Derry

can be contacted at

tderry@kscequinox.com