I visited Oberlin in October of 1954 (ran into Hurricane Hazel on the way back home), and then lived there during term time for 4 years. Freshman year I lived at Tank Hall which is now a Co-op. The other three years I lived at Grey Gables, which no longer exists.
I rode a bike which was stolen so I no longer have it. It had an oogah horn on it which I lent to someone who didn't return it.
I went to classes at Wright Zoo lab which is no longer there, and the Botany building, also no longer there.
Fondest memory: My dad gave me a 35 mm camera for my 20th birthday, and I took quite a few pictures around campus. When he and my mom came to graduation, he took some photos too.
The first picture is of the Royal family at Nick's graduation (mine too) in 1959. There is also a picture he took of the Royal family in 1955 in the about the same place including Nick's sister Sue.
I went to the 45th reunion with a digital camera. The primary motive for going back was that my roommate was going to be there. The campus has really changed. I don't think I will be going back. I'll have to rely on these old pictures for my fondest memories. You can't go home again.
I loved Oberlin while I was there. I've been back twice. The first time was 10 years after graduation. Oberlin has 'cluster reunions. That is every year three classes to gather together for reunions every five years. The middle class of each cluster celebrates its reunion on the actual five-year interval. For instance, for me, graduating in 1959, on 1969 the cluster was 1958-1959-1960.
Clusters remain the same until the classes reach their 25th reunion, which each class celebrates alone. The 50th reunion, which is also celebrated alon By this time I had three kids. Everyone was still recognizable, but I was somewhat disappointed that the people I was really close to in school weren't there. My roommates and the people I hung out with weren't always in 'my' class. The dorm where I lived for 3 years was a parking lot. The buildings that I spent time in for my major were gone.
So it was a little depressing and I didn't go again for a long time. In the interim, the curriculum has changed also - there's no mandatory classes for a well rounded education any more.
Fondest memory: My roommate and really good friend was the class ahead of me. She lived relatively close to Ohio so she could get there easily and she kept asking me to come to one of our clusters. So finally in 2004 which was my 45th and her 46th and would be the last cluster for us both, I did go.
I loved meeting and talking with her, but even more buildings were gone and things were hardly the same. Plus it took us two days to drive out there (and two days to go back), we had to live in a dorm room which wasn't bad but there was no elevator, and it was VERY expensive for any of the events.
We came in on Saturday morning, and ate lunch at one of the dining halls, ate dinner at the Field House with our class, and left Sunday morning to drive home. I doubt I will go again.
Midway in the 1955-56 school year, the anonymous donor of the formerly named Men's Building (Mr. Wilder) died, and at that point the building was renamed in his honor.
The headline in the college paper was "Men's Building Becomes Wilder".
When I was a freshmen, many of the freshmen men were housed in Men's Building, which was at 135 West Lorain Street There was a Recreation Hall which included a bowling alley where we had co-ed PE classes, and there was a snack bar kind of place.
Fondest memory: The construction of the Men's Building was begun in 1909 and the building was completed in 1911, at a total cost of $460,000. The architect was Mr. J.L. Silsbee of Chicago, and the building was erected by Mr. George Feick of Sandusky. It was designed to be the center of the men's activities of all kinds—social, religious, athletic, musical, and literary. It contained reception rooms, offices, and rooms for the Young Men's Christian Association, athletic, trophy, and Glee Club rooms, and assembly room seating five hundred, rooms for the men's literary societies, and dormitory accommodations for one hundred and fourteen men. In 1928 the assembly room was named the "King-Bosworth Room."
The currently named Wilder Hall now houses Oberlin's student union. The Dean of Student Life and Services, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Office of Chaplains, the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA), and the Experimental College (ExCo) all have offices there as well as most of the college's 100-plus student organizations.
This is one of many fine venues where Obies (i.e. Oberlin Conservatory Students) play and listen to music. It's on Professor Street, where else?
Finney Chapel - and several other Oberlin structures - was designed by Cass Gilbert, one of the greatest American architects working in the neo-classical style. Among his other buildings are the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul and the Detroit Public Library - both of which I have photos of on my pages.
Favorite thing: The Memorial Arch in Tappan Square is a favorite place for Oberliners to saunter. It was built in 1903 and is dedicated to those Oberlin graduates serving as missionaries in China who died in the Boxer Uprising.
Either.... Wellington or Oberlin.
Oberlin was founded in 1833as an integrated community. The free blacks of Oberlin celebrated Aug.1 (the date of the abolition of slavery in Jamaica) as the day of Independence, rather than July 4.
Women and blacks were admitted to the college. In 1841 it graduated the first women to earn a college B.A. degree in the United States.
Knowing that Oberlin was the first co-educational college in the United States meant a lot to me.
A large number of the students from Oberlin became abolitionists and went South to lead slaves to freedom. By the time the town officially incorporated in 1852, it was a major terminus of the underground railroad and had helped 3000 slaves escape to freedom.
In 1858, Democrats in Ohio gained control of the state legislature and repealed the personal liberty law that allowed fugitives to apply for a writ of habeas corpus. The fugitive slaves who sought refuge around Oberlin became targets of slave-catchers from the South who entered Ohio under the authority of the federal Fugitive Slave Law. When a US Marshall captured a fugitive slave and took him to Wellington to American House (a hotel which was on the site of Wellington's present day library), a group from Oberlin, including John Mercer Langston, Ohio's first black lawyer, and John Copeland 'rescued' him. This is known as the "Oberlin-Wellington Slave Rescue" which is considered by many to be a direct cause of the American Civil War
Fondest memory: The government indicted 37 of the rescuers group for violating the Fugitive Slave Law. While the Rescuers waited in jail, they were visited by John Brown whose father Owen had been an Oberlin trustee in the 1830s.
John Brown recruited 2 blacks at Oberlin for his Oct. 16 raid on Harper's Ferry: John Copeland, and Lewis Leary, whose Irish ancester Jeremiah O'Leary had fought in the Revolution with Nathaniel Greene. Oberlin would also be blamed for causing Brown's raid.
John Mercer Langston organized Ohio's first black regiment in 1863 and became a national leader for blacks after the war, founding the National Equal Rights League, organizing the Freedman's Bureau, becoming professor at Howard University, serving as minister to Haiti and as the only black congressman from Virginia in 1890.
Information from Sources:
* Brandt, Nat. The Town That Started the Civil War. Syracuse University Press, 1990. 315 p.
* Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. The American Nation: a history from original sources. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1904-18.
Favorite thing: Richardsonian Romanesque! Peters Halls is one of many outstanding examples of 19th century collegiate architecture at Oberlin.
Favorite thing: Those masons of the late 19th century would be glad to know that their work is still appreciated in the early 21st century.