By Cindy Ryherd

This month, the “Room Names” series continues with the Austin Room.

The Austin Room

The Austin Room (pictured) was named/dedicated as part of the 1999-2000 renovations and accessibility addition. Named after Genevieve Hunt Austin (Jan Squires mother, Jim Squires mother-in-law), she moved to Hollis to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law and the 1970s and joined the church in the 1980s. She loved children and taught confirmation classes and Sunday School for over a decade at the church and volunteered in other church activities. The Austin Room is located on the bottom floor to the left as you enter Hardy Hall from the hallway. While the room is not new, the 2020-2021 Building Our Vision renovations resulted in the room becoming a flexible space that teens could call home, but also provide storage for the kitchen and a waiting area for functions such as the spaghetti supper and blood drives when needed. Now with a teen focus, the room has always been used for children, starting as a Nursery and becoming a Christian Education classroom over the years. This room has also been used for the Christmas Fair Fashion Boutique for many years.

BOV Renovations Changes to the Austin Room:

  • An old, dark utility closet was removed and two, new, brightly-lit closets with considerable shelf space (and some hanging space)
    were added to provide additional storage for the kitchen next door.
  • The leak in the wall adjacent to the cemetery was repaired.
  • New flooring was laid and fresh, bright-colored paint was put on walls.
  • New ceiling/lighting and new windows (the old windows were quite drafty), making the room lighter and brighter.
  • All new teen-inspired furniture and decor were purchased as part of the “housewarming” fundraising.
  • A big-screen TV and gaming system was installed

About Genevieve Hunt Austin

Mrs. Genevieve “Gen” Austin (pictured with her daughter, Jan Squires), was fondly known as “Nana” to family and friends. She moved to Hollis in the 1970s to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law, church members Jan and Jim Squires. Before moving to New Hampshire, Mrs. Austin lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the Dean of Residence at Radcliffe College. She, herself, was a proud graduate of Oberlin College. Near and dear to her heart were the issues of civil rights, literacy, and religious ideals that honored the worth and dignity of all people. She was the widow of Dr. Eugene M. Austin, president of Colby Junior College (now Colby-Sawyer College) from 1935-1962, and a Baptist minister with whom she served congregations in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Genevieve joined the Congregational Church of Hollis in the 1980s and taught confirmation classes and Sunday school. She volunteered her time stuffing the weekly “Chimes” for distribution in the mail and playing the piano at Greenbriar in Nashua. Ann Siglin, a current choir member, remembers well how in 1984, Gen “rallied” the congregation to fund the purchase of bells to create the bell choir. Within days of the initial request for donations, Gen’s persuasiveness had managed to get the bells purchase fully funded, even though, she, herself, never played the bells! The Congregational Church of Hollis provided Mrs. Austin the opportunity in her later years to share her faith with children, and she always marveled at the insight, curiosity, and enthusiasm of youth. It is appropriate that a room dedicated to our youth is named after Genevieve Hunt Austin.

Genevieve Hunt Austin (1908-1998) is laid to rest next to her husband, Dr. Eugene Austin (1910-1962), in the West Part Cemetery of New London, NH. Her gravestone inscription reads “She cherished her family and always bloomed in the place she was planted.” in reference to the many places she lived, made an impact, and was loved by those who knew her. In addition to the Austin room named after her, her memory is kept alive and loved by family, friends, and church parishioners, including her son-in-law Dr. Jim Squires, and Jim and Jan Squires children: Jim Squires, Anne Scarano, Martha Hummer, and Marc Squires.

Click on image below to see photo album of the Austin Room as it looks today

Genevieve Hunt Austin – A Life Remembered Click on the image below to read the tribute to Mrs. Austin included in the Service of Remembrance Order of Service on Sept. 5, 1998

© 2023 The Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC