School to name arts center after 'Kitty' Houghton

Special to the Union Leader
February 07. 2013 10:41PM

Catherine "Kitty" Houghton (COURTESY)

BETHLEHEM - Catherine "Kitty" Houghton's fellow trustees at the White Mountain School have decided that naming the new campus arts center for her would be the most appropriate way to honor the 70-year-old patron of the arts who led a rich and active life, professionally and privately.

"That's something that folks are taking comfort in; one positive thing," Rob Constantine, the school's director of advancement, said Thursday.

Houghton, a 1960 graduate of the private boarding school in Bethlehem, was stabbed to death last month at a Littleton hotel in what authorities say was a random act of violence by Rodney A. Hill, 37, of West Danville, Vt.

A Reno, Nev. native, Houghton was living in the northern California city of Novato at the time of her death. She attended the school in Bethlehem as a high school student when it was known as St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains. The all-girls school founded in 1886 began admitting male students in the 1970s, Constantine said, and maintains a student population of 110.

The White Mountain School deliberately limits its student body to that number to provide the most individual attention for the grades 9 through 12 students, 80 percent of who reside there.

Constantine said Houghton was a strong enthusiast for the arts, particularly music, and her efforts were instrumental in funding a position for a new music teacher last fall.

Administrators posted the following website statement regarding's Houghton's work on behalf of the school: "In 2012 she led an effort to fund a new music position at the school that broadened and deepened our arts programming and led to a revival of the wonderful choral tradition so important to her own experience.

"Her support of music at WMS helped the program grow and highlighted the need for the school to provide teaching space to better accommodate the burgeoning interest in arts.

"Kitty's leadership support and her enthusiasm for the arts at WMS were instrumental in the school's decision to construct a new arts center and on Jan. 27, 2013, her last official action as a trustee was to cast her vote in approval of the school's plan to secure the funding necessary for the arts center project."

The trustees acted quickly - two days after her death - to approve the naming of the Catherine Houghton Arts Center that's scheduled to open in January 2014.

There's little new information in the state's second-degree murder case against Hill, according to Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell. Hill's scheduled probable cause hearing in Littleton District Court Tuesday was postponed with no new date set for that session.

"I don't know if there'll be another hearing before he gets indicted in superior court," Morrell said Thursday.

The prosecutor declined to answer specific questions on the case, including whether Houghton's Jan. 28 killing was captured on video surveillance equipment in the lobby of the Hampton Inn off Route 302 where investigators say she was attacked.

Houghton died a short time later at Littleton Regional Hospital. Police took Hill into custody that night outside the hotel.

"The investigation is continuing," Morrell said.

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