Near the steps of Transylvania’s library stands a very old white ash tree that occupies a sentimental place in the memory of many older Transylvania alumni. Known to past generations of students as the Kissing Tree, this towering, majestic tree was once a very romantic place.
As its name implies, the Kissing Tree was a favorite spot for couples to linger and steal a kiss or two. To understand this in context, you have to go back to a time when public displays of affection were frowned upon. On many college campuses, kissing in public was strictly against the rules.
Somehow, a tacit agreement evolved at Transylvania that when sweethearts were under the Kissing Tree, administrators would look the other way while they stole a kiss. “The Kissing Tree was sort of like walking under the mistletoe—you had permission to stop and kiss, but only on that one spot on campus,” recalls Virginia Marsh Bell, a 1944 graduate.
Changes in social mores may have rendered some of the quaint traditions of courting obsolete for today’s students, but for the ghosts of Transylvania lovers past, there will always be the blissful memories of one of their favorite romantic places—under the Kissing Tree.
Today, the Kissing Tree, with its encircling bench, is still a favorite place for students to meet and talk with friends, sit and read, or just enjoy the day.
The Chronicle of Higher Education included Transylvania’s Kissing Tree in an article on the most romantic places on American college campuses.