The Hovey Museum – a pictorial

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This is the Hovey Museum in the late 1890’s.  It was built in the 1870’s, where the Armory stands today, as the Polytechnic Gymnasium.  Following the Civil War the government created military training courses at colleges across the land. Wabash had a course and this building was home to the program with space in the main level for drilling and exercises and on the second level for military arts like bridge building and surveying.

When that program was discontinued the space was empty for a while until a musuem was created to house the collections gathered by Edmund O. Hovey over several decades.

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Here is the long hall filled with all sorts of natural history items. It was truly quite a museum in its time.


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This is the space off to the left where we can see a wide variety of animals on the cases. With a little boost from technology we can even see into one of the cabinets.


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Shells in the left and coral and starfish in the right cabinet.

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Off to the right of the long gallery was a doorway into the faculty offices and a small library of the latest scientific books and journals.

PD-065_05Biology Lab


This is the office as it was during the tenure of Mason B. Thomas, complete with the latest in scientific equipment.


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This is the space in the second floor where students worked on their laboratory sciences.

When the zoology department moved into South Hall, along with various collections, it became clear that all of this space was going to waste. That factor and the arrival of basketball rather doomed this old building. As you can see in the first picture, there are a string of poles on either side of what might serve as a basketball court.

So as WWI’s clouds were gathering, Wabash embarked on a new project. Build a gymnasium, the students called out to any who would listen. And the college did just that, and owing the militaristic turn in the minds of all, it was named the Armory.

I hope you have enjoyed this little peek into the history.

All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College

A lovely man, a lovely grant


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One of the most delightful benefits of working as a member of the staff at Wabash is the Hutsinpillar Grant program. It is a very specific grant – for very specific purposes. Every four years the full time members of staff are offered a chance to apply for a grant to be spent only for vacation purposes. In other words, it may not be used to travel for work reasons. Funded by Neil Hutsinpillar, a longtime member of the faculty, the grant was intended to assist those he thought the college forgot.

As Byron Trippet explains in his book Wabash on My Mind, “He had independent private income from a family hardware business….his Wabash salary, even after World War II, was low. But he never lacked money. His tastes were simple and he lived prudently but he indulged himself when he chose to do so…He traveled widely and frequently in the summer times – throughout the United States, often to Europe, a little in Latin America. He was a confirmed bachelor by plan…He made careful blue chip investments and prospered modestly…He refused to take retirement pay when the time came to retire. He said he didn’t need it and didn’t believe in such things. Instead he made gifts now and then to the college. Characteristically, the most important of these was a fund he established after talking with me in the early 1960s to provide travel grants to long-time women employees of the college. ‘The college tends to forget people like Mary Schlemmer and Frances Scott,’ he said, ‘but they are important, too.” Mary and Frances were long time, loyal employees in Center Hall.

Of course the grants are not restricted to women and the amount has risen to keep up with inflation. It is a generous amount – currently at $700. Certainly enough to have an adventure. What a lovely program, and what a lovely man.

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Start your engines!

Indy 500 at the start

While looking through the postcards for the Our Town series of posts, I came across this little beauty. As this is the 100th running of the 500, this seemed like just the thing for a Memorial Day weekend post. What I especially love about this is the undeveloped nature of the track and the Pagoda as it was originally built.

It was one of four little cards which were a gift from Dave And Bonnie Downs, the great-grandchildren of our President Joseph F. Tuttle. The cards are 3.5″ wide and only 2.25″ tall and are part of a set. The other cards are of James Whitcomb Riley’s home, the Indiana State Capitol and the St. Vincent Hospital on Fall Creek in Indianapolis. The great blog Historic Indianapolis says that the building was opened in 1913 so the post cards are at least that old.  Here is a link to a very nice piece on the old hospital.


I hope that you all have a lovely Memorial weekend and enjoy the race!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College


Our Town II

In the last post I featured some images of our town, all centered on one main intersection. In this post, I thought I might share a few more images of this area. Below is another image from Main and Washington Streets, but this time looking north and showing the Interurban coming up the street. We can see the electric plant in the far right background.

CrawfordsvilleCourthouse at 300 dpi

This next image is of the Big Four Depot on Washington Street at Franklin. Some may remember this spot as the A&P or Crawford’s grocery on South Washington Street. This will be the site of the new Fusion building which is a part of the Stellar grant here in town. The tracks in front will be removed and this will become a biking and hiking trail connecting to the rail trail west of town. Townspeople are really excited about this work which will spruce up the area in a big way and provide tremendous access to the western trail!

Crawfordsville Big Four Depot

Speaking of the Stellar grant recently won by the city – the Ben Hur Building, pictured below,  will be rehabilitated as a part of that grant. This is a picture of it at night when it was newly built. I love the lights on top and the big windows on the front and east sides. These windows were for a furniture store on the main floor and were later partially filled in with glass block. It will be interesting to see if they are reopened. Look just to the right, or west, of the Ben Hur.  This little nook was occupied by a cozy place called the Aero-Dome theater. Crawfordsville Ben Hur at night

Here is a closeup of that area of the image from a daytime view of the Ben Hur.


Crawfordsville Airdome theater

It was an outdoor movie venue. The building to the right of it the Aero-Dome is now Little Mexico. The Aero-Dome didn’t last terribly long before it was replaced by the Dobe Inn. This ad was scanned from a yearbook. It sounds like a great place to meet after a dance or a game.

Dobe INN

The Inn was across from the Post Office, but lest you land in the wrong block, it was not the same post office that we know today. Here is the previous iteration.

Crawfordsville Post Office

This was on the north West corner of Main and Water streets, where the one we know is on the north East corner. There is a drive up bank on that corner today.

Crawfordsville Crawfords House

Another landmark that is gone from our downtown is the Crawford House Hotel, pictured above. It was a massive hotel and occupied the space where the Marie Canine Plaza and the parking lot are now. Here is another view of that giant.


This picture was scanned from one of James B. Elmore’s books. It is a closer look at the hotel, looking north up Green Street. Some might know this block as the street that was later home to the Pizza King or the Green Street Tavern. The next image is a view of the Crawford House from Main Street looking west, with the hotel on the right about halfway up the street. An estimate of era would place this picture in the later 1800’s or early years of the 1900’s. This is our town as seen by Ezra Pound.



WEst Main looking east

This is a picture from a little later, as we now have automobiles. Look at the cables over the street. These powered the streetcar which ran up and down Main Street. And the building with the tower on the right of the picture is the YMCA. This is the place where basketball came to Crawfordsville via an instructor fresh out of  Y training where he was taught by James Naismith, inventor of basketball. The game was Naismith’s effort to keep men active in the cold, northern winter. This postcard gives us a closer look at the front of the building. This area is now the parking lot for the PNC Bank here in town.

Crawfordsville YMCA

This is the very gym where Hoosier Hysteria started in this area. Look at the closed nets. This image is from the Wabash Magazine of June, 1906. It was in this gym that Piggy Lambert learned to play basketball. It was here that the first Wonder Five of Wabash history played. It was a rough and tumble game and I have read that players used every advantage, including running up the walls, to score.

Y Gym WM 06 1906 p310


This next picture is of the old St. Bernard’s church on the south east corner of Washington and Pike streets. This building was torn down and a new First National Bank [now Chase Bank] was built after St. Bernard’s moved to a new, modern church on East Main Street. On the corner is the church, behind it at left is the Catholic school and on the right of the picture is the Rectory.

Crawfordsville St Bernards

This image is an architect’s sketch of the “new” high school.  What a lovely building it is and happily still in productive use as apartments and home to several community services.

Crawfordsville high School

Below is the old Mills School on West Main Street, this building was replaced by a modern, flat looking building and the Kathy Steele playground which now serves as a park to the neighbors. Note the streetcar tracks in front of the school. These led west to a maintenance shed, now occupied by a pest control company.

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This is the old Willson School which was built on the corner of East Wabash and Wallace Avenue. This building looks so much like a castle, one can imagine tiny elementary children in awe before it. It was an amazing building in appearance. Crawfordsville Willson school

Here is one last school, Tuttle, which was named for Wabash’s third president Joseph Tuttle. This school was torn down in the mid-20th century and replaced by a new, modern, flat roofed building. That too was recently pulled down to build the new Crawfordsville Middle School. Gone is the Tuttle name.

Crawfordsville Tuttle school

Let me close with this image, which is in the same style as many of the others. Below you see the Ben Hur Terminal Station which was on Washington Street just north of the courthouse. This block was taken down some years ago and a  parking lot created by the county.

Crawfordsville North Washington BenHur station

The interurban was a tremendous asset to our town as it afforded cheap and easy transport to Indianapolis for our students and townspeople. Not uncommonly the really big games were played in a much larger stadium in Indianapolis. At that time, athletics were funded by the gate receipts. Our students would hop on in downtown Crawfordsville and hop off in the big city. How very convenient!!

I hope that you have enjoyed these pictures of our town. Always interesting to see how it has changed over the decades!

All best, 

Beth Swift


Wabash College


Our Town – Crawfordsville

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A couple of months ago I gave a presentation to the Women on Campus about the history of Crawfordsville. It was such fun to put together. I thought that I might share some of the great images from the presentation. This is a picture of the Hanna Buildling – former home of Murphy’s Department store, now Heathcliff. This is East Main Street at Washington Street. I love the many bakeries and the wooden sidewalks to keep the ladies skirts out of the mud!

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This is a post card of the same intersection many years later and this time looking south. The church on the left is the old St. Bernard’s Catholic church while the church on the right is the Wabash Avenue Presbyterian church.

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This is from the same time frame, but this time looking east down East Main Street. Look at the policeman at the far right.

And here is one last image, look down the right side…

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There is the Central Theatre right in the middle of the block. Until I scanned this image for the talk, I had no idea that the Central existed. It is so much fun to find something new. It is even more fun to share it!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College


Kingery Hall as Infirmary


In 1941 Wabash College renovated old Kingery and created an up to date Infirmary.

A short article in the October, 1940 issue of the alumni magazine The Wabash Bulletin announced the gift which made it possible.

Kingery Hall has been completely renovated and restored to its original appearance. It now houses a completely modern four bed infirmary, with bath, nurse’s quarters and lobby, entirely separated from the rest of the building. The remainder of the lower floor and the second floor contain eight rooms which house fifteen students and a proctor (the proctor this year being Coach Mel Brewer) at a nominal charge per student.

The occupants do all of their own janitor work and the infirmary is in charge of two upperclassmen, one of whom is a premedic [sic] student.

Fund for rebuilding and furnishing Kingery Hall were supplied by friends of Dr. Clyde H. Chase in Detroit.

At the time Dr. Chase was the President of the Association of Wabash College Men. The hospital equipment gift was valued at $1,000 and another $7,000 was spent on building renovations.

Here are some great photographs of Kingery sporting its new look.

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And here is a photograph of one of the dormitory rooms. It looks to be an inviting room full of natural light and plenty of space.

KingeryDormInfirmary 05

This was quite a project and long overdue. Kingery Hall was named for the professor, and his family, who lived there for a decade and a half. Hugh McMaster Kingery was a professor of Latin at Wabash from 1891 until his retirement in 1916. For most of that time the Kingery family lived in the brick building which later carried their name. By all accounts it was a gracious home, Mrs. Kingery was one of the founders of the Crawfordsville Art League. When Professor Kingery retired other members of the Wabash family lived there. The building was in desperate need of a facelift as it was disreputable in appearance. Thanks to the friends of Dr. Chase, it seems that in 1940 it got the works!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Comps are here!

Comps essay

The campus is quiet as most of the students are still at home enjoying that last bit of winter break, but for the seniors it is a different story. The Lilly Library is fairly buzzing with activity as seniors gather in groups or study earnestly alone. In a long and fiercely held tradition these young men must pass one final hurdle on their way to the sheepskin diploma and the end of their undergraduate days. Comps are here!

First held in 1932, the comprehensive examination is 84 years old and came out of the new curriculum adopted in 1928. The class who entered in the fall of that year was the first to study four years under the new system and the first to take a senior comprehensive examination which they did in the spring of 1932.  Among other reforms, the “new curriculum” created our divisional system – originally four, now three, divisions. The reform also instituted Contemporary Civilization, a course to be taken by every student. CC, as it was known, morphed into Cultures and Traditions which then became our current Enduring Questions and is still taken by every student. Other changes were instituted as well and, as is common with such a big change, it was not popular with everyone. Entrance requirements were increased and the days of athletes dropping in for the season and playing games while little bothering to attend classes were over. As you might guess the faculty approved, but a very vocal group of alumni did not. President Hopkins came under fire but he was determined that Wabash was first and foremost an educational institution and  our athletes were to be students first, athletes second. It was tough on the president, but he persisted.

So from that time to this our seniors have studied like mad, crossed their fingers, held their breath and stepped up to “demonstrate a mastery of their subject of study” as comps were originally described. It is a bond that all Wabash graduates have shared for 84 years now. It is a rite of passage that all Wabash men contemplate and celebrate once it is over. Good luck guys!

All best, 
Beth Swift
Wabash College


The Circle Connection

The Circle Connection


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Center Hall at Wabash College. Photo from the Ramsay Archives at Wabash College.



Each year at Thanksgiving the Circle in Indianapolis is jammed full of folks there to see the monument and its thousands of Christmas lights come to life for the holiday season. This event draws thousands to the center of Indy, but this post is about a different site on the Circle, Christ Church and the Wabash connection via Irish architect William Tinsley who designed our Center Hall.

Tinsley by Forbes CVR


Much of the material that the Archives holds on William Tinsley came to the College via John D. Forbes, history and fine arts faculty at Wabash from 1946-1954. Forbes wrote a book documenting this talented architect, Victorian Architect: The Life and Work of William Tinsley (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1953).

William Tinsley (1804–85) was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.  He worked as an architect in Ireland for some years in the Gothic style. William Tinsley’s large family left Ireland due to the increasingly worrisome rebellion and also due to the worsening financial times associated with the potato famine. These two problems made it increasingly difficult for him to find work as an architect in Ireland. Arriving in America in 1851, Tinsley settled in Cincinnati.

North Western Christian University [later known as Butler] held a design contest to arrive at a plan for their new building. Tinsley won the contest and his first big institutional project in the States built at the corner of College and 13th Street in Indianapolis. Following this success, in 1853 the family moved to Indiana and it was shortly after this time that Mr. Tinsley was hired to present a design for Center Hall at Wabash.

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Center Hall at Wabash College from the 1850’s lithograph.


Here is a drawing of Center shortly after it was built. Note the lack of north and south wings, they followed some time later.  Tinsley designed this new building on the campus of Wabash College to face east [into the Arboretum] which was the front yard of campus at that time. This accounts for the very ornate porch on the east façade of Center, while the Mall side is exceedingly plain.

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Eli Lilly photo from the Ramsay Archives at Wabash College.


Back to the church on the Circle in Indianapolis. To learn more about this Tinsley project we turn to Eli Lilly, a prominent member of Christ Church. Lilly was so passionate about his church that he wrote a history of it, The Little Church on the Circle which was published by the church in 1957. We are lucky to have a copy here in the Ramsay Archives and it tells the reader that the church construction process began in March of 1856 with the formation of a building committee. Later that spring the committee recommended that another committee be created “to confer with Mr. Tinsley, Architect, as to a plan for a Church,” and to begin the fund-raising. That meeting was in May and by August Tinsley had drawings and plans to present. The estimated cost was between thirteen and fifteen thousand dollars.  This little jewel has stood the test of time. Here is a link to a great website out of Indianapolis which shows some excellent pictures of Christ Church over the years.

In addition to Center Hall, Christ Church and the long ago demolished building for NWCU, Tinsley also did a building for the campus at Kenyon College. Ascension Hall still stands along the Middle Path there and I was delighted a few years ago to have the chance to wander inside it.

Tinsley by Forbes Kenyon Interior

Interior photograph of Ascension Hall at Kenyon from the book by John D. Forbes, Victorian Architect: The Life and Work of William Tinsley (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1953).

Tinsley by Forbes Kenyon Exterior

Exterior photograph of Ascension Hall at Kenyon from the book by John D. Forbes, Victorian Architect: The Life and Work of William Tinsley (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1953).

Tinsley designed buildings for a number of other colleges in the Midwest including buildings for Indiana University, Ohio Wesleyan and Oskaloosa College in Iowa. He also designed a number of homes for the wealthy, the first Boone County Courthouse and several other churches including St. John’s Episcopal in Lafayette which is still standing. Tinsley had a very successful career in America and lived in the Midwest the remainder of his life.

Each time I drive on to the Circle in Indianapolis, I smile at the beautiful church and think of the connection through the Irish architect that gave us these two buildings.

All best,


Beth Swift


Wabash College




October on Campus

Sign 2nd CD2004-03-03


There are few things as pretty as the leaves on campus in October. Everywhere we look the colors of fall are especially brilliant this year. If you were on campus this week you would see that in addition to the usual gold there are spectacular reds and every shade of orange and yellow you might imagine.  As I understand it, the tremendous rains that we had in Central Indiana this summer have really created the most beautiful fall display in memory.

In thinking about the leaves on campus, I was reminded of this iconic picture by one of our best photographers, Paul T. Mielke [W1942]. Paul was not only a loyal son, but a long serving member of our mathematics faculty. Lucky for us too since he most usually had a camera around his neck. Paul’s picture of the second sign at the corner of Wabash and Grant is full of autumnal gold. It really gives the viewer such a warm feeling for Wabash. Copies of this photo hang around campus and it never ceases to delight me to see it.

While looking for Paul’s picture, I also found this lovely picture of the first sign.

Sign 1st CD-2004-03-01

Taken in the morning by W. Norwood Brigance, a member of the faculty in the Speech Department, it is also a great fall picture and was used on the cover of the 1948 yearbook. The various colors and the shadows really make this a delightful photo, and I love the movement of the student, head down and off to his class. This sign, the first to occupy that space, was created by Byron Trippet to “dress up” the entry to Campus. The Indianapolis alumni thought that the corner was a disreputable first look at Wabash. And looking at old photos, they weren’t wrong. The grass was overgrown and, unlike today, no flowers. So Dean Trippet was charged with the task. I love his choice of a sign and the simple statement it carries, “Wabash College, Founded in 1832, A Liberal Arts College for Men.” Then and now, the same is still true. Most Wabash men are more familiar with the wooden signs like the one in Paul’s picture and there was some consternation when the last wooden sign was removed in the early 2000’s. Yet it is true to say that the current sign on the corner more closely resembles the original.

In each season the corner is planted with a succession of magnificent flowers, they do really dress up that space. As a welcome to Wabash the corner does just what it was intended to do and that welcome is caught by these beautiful old pictures.

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College


The tradition continues…

Flag AD-2005-25

It’s homecoming!

The story of 103 years of homecoming at Wabash is full of rituals, traditions and passion…passion for sport, passion for victory, but most of all a passion for this special place.

Football came to Wabash in the late 1880’s, the fans wanted a special cheer and a team color. One student suggested heliotrope and another replied, “Heliotrope, hell! We want blood!”

This Indiana championship team was the first to wear the scarlet.



And this is a scrap of the first scarlet ever worn!


At the start of the 20th century football fever gripped the nation and colleges began hosting homecoming weekends.

Driven by the Chicago Alumni Association, Wabash’s first homecoming football weekend was in 1912.

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The Roaring twenties saw Homecoming firmly established. House decorations, stunt night, bonfires, dances and chapel sing all came into being at that time.  Homecoming as we know it was here to stay. The Sphinx Club came in the 20’s too. In December of 1921 a group from Wabash travelled to IU and brought back the Sphinx. The club quickly assumed many duties at Homecoming, as they still do today.

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Chapel Sing, known in the past as Freshman Sing, was more of an individual ordeal as it was every man for himself. Note too in this picture of the 1930s that the freshmen are all wearing their “pots” or beanies. All the freshmen are being closely watched by the members of the Senior Council who served as judges for the sing.

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The homecoming bonfire was a big deal and the gathering of the materials for the fire sometimes led to trouble with our neighbors. It seems that any old fencing, odd bits of lumber and the neighbor’s old outhouse were all fair game for the scavengers!

Homecoming 1952 SLD-2004_1048

Over the years the traditions have changed, freshmen no longer wear their pajamas and gone are the pep rallies at the Courthouse.

But the floats, that don’t, the queen contest, the banners and chapel sing all continue.


Each year a new class of freshmen learn Old Wabash and learn also to love this special place. The tradition continues…

 All best, 
Beth Swift, Archivist
Wabash College

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