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Built in 1825, Capen originally served as a law school. One of the students was Franklin Pierce, who later became President of the United States. The house then became a summer home and in 1883 it became part of Miss Bessie Capen's private school.

In honor of its namesake, every year the house holds a Bessie Capen birthday party in the spring. A contemporary twist is added to the party by combining the birthday festivities with a theme. "Love Boat" and "Late Night with David Letterman" have been the themes of recent years. A house talent show, class skits, House Initiation and other house activities such as movie night are highlights of the year. The house is home to 73 women who live in 29 single rooms and 22 double rooms.

Capenites are particularly fond of their beautiful hardwood dance floor. They hold all-campus dances, as well as in house dances several times a year. In 2000, Capen commissioned the "Ruth Simmons' Study Nook" in honor of the college president. Finally, Capen is particularly proud of its strong showings in intramural sports competitions.

During the summer of 1995, Capen was completely renovated. Windows, bathrooms, kitchenettes, and student rooms were all refinished, renovated and painted. Students in Capen eat their meals in Lamont House dining room.

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