The KnightSpot, a multipurpose student space denoted by its purple neon sign, is known for playing host to traditional events like the notorious Student Orientation dance, small plays and comedy nights. Thirty years back, that same space was a hangout called The Hub, and it was known for a much different kind of entertainment.
Alongside the Rathskeller, a Campus Auxiliary Services-operated bar that catered to students in the basement of Letchworth Dining Hall, The Hub was one of several bars doing business on campus before the New York State drinking age was raised to 21 in 1985, according to adjunct lecturer in English Kennison '79.
The Hub was also a full-service cafe-style restaurant with sandwiches, sodas and a distinctive coffeehouse atmosphere that Kennison said is one of the most memorable aspects of his college years.
Every weekend, The Hub hosted student and local acoustic singers with folky, poetic styles. Kennison said The Hub was the place on campus “where you'd take a date that you really cared about.”
When the drinking age increased to 21 in 1985, The Hub could no longer serve alcohol and was eventually deserted. CAS transferred all of its services to Mary Jemison Dining Hall when it opened in 2003.
The sign for The Hub dining station in MJ, which specializes in breakfast sandwiches and fried food, is the same sign that once hung over the KnightSpot.
The KnightSpot itself began as a student initiative to provide a safe dance club on campus for students who didn't want to spend their weekends at the Inn Between Tavern, according to Director of Student Life Chip Matthews.
The group of roughly 15 students reached out to Vice President of Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio in spring 2003 to create the space. Bonfiglio enlisted Matthews to head the project with the student committee.
“I was the logistical person, Dr. Bonfiglio was the financial person and the group [of students] made the decisions and drove the direction,” Matthews said.
Students selected everything from the paint to the carpeting to the furniture and all other aspects of the KnightSpot's design.
Students also chose the name for the space. They originally called it the G-Spot but decided against the idea in the end, according to Matthews.
After it was completed, the KnightSpot opened as a dance club every Friday and Saturday night for two years with a group of rotating student and local DJs providing the music.
Since then, in order to better serve student needs, it has become a more open-ended space for students to rent. Organizations utilize the KnightSpot for rehearsals, parties, events and small lectures.
Matthews said that changes in the character of the KnightSpot reflect the social preferences of each student population.
“In order for a student to excel in academics, there has to be a strong level of well-being,” he said. “We need a space where we can come together as a community.”