A beauty of a photo

This beautiful photo is from the early 1930s. This is clear because of what is not there – Goodrich Hall which was dedicated in 1938. We can also see that Forest Hall [to the right of the picture] is where the Sparks Center is now.

I love the old cars and the warm, sunny feel of this picture and I hope you do too!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College

A corner of note…

Folks who know Wabash know this corner. It stands right at the entrance to campus from downtown. This picture came from the scrapbook of John P. Collett given to the Archives by his granddaughter. This photo is from the early 1920’s and except for the brick paving on the street, the corner is much the same. And for the record, those pavers are still there too. When a pothole gets big enough, we can see down to the old bricks. Poston pavers, I expect. Crawfordsville was a center of brick making and the Poston pavers were the best.

And, here under our cold, cloudy skies, it is nice to see a sunny summer day!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Play it again!

Like so many clubs, groups and traditions here at Wabash the Pep Band has appeared and disappeared over time. Sometimes dependent on a strong director, sometime it came alive because of a strong student or a motivated group of students. I thought that for this post we might look back at some pics of past bands.

This pep band photo is from the 1963 yearbook. This band was under the leadership of Bob Mitchum. It looks like there are plenty of brass players!


This photo is from a snowy Monon Bell game in 1997 at Greencastle. What an adventure that must have been!

This looks to be an all campus pep rally. The band is on the Chapel steps and Butch Shearer is at the microphone.

This short article is from the Bachelor of 1943 lamenting the loss of the band and calling for the formation of a new band, NOW!

This is a colorful shot of this year’s Monon Bell game. The pep band is back and strong as ever. Now I may be a bit biased as it is my husband Jim Swift [son of former mathematics prof Dr. William Swift] who is directing the band. He is the fellow in the Wabash “W” shirt signaling to the band.

And a closer look will show a fellow with a Monon Mohawk playing a sax – that is Henry Swift. At the top right is David Morgan, the head of Campus Services here and at the right middle is Dr. Jeremy Hartnett, a Wabash alumnus and professor of Classics. The band is a mix of students, faculty and staff and members of the local community. All together they make a powerful sound.

Over the history of Wabash the pep band has been a really nice part of the traditions of Wabash. Glad to have it back, it adds a lot to the games, whether you are in the stands or a 1000 miles away and catching it over the internet.

Play it again – From the hills of Maine to the Western Plains…

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Before it was the Bell game…

This is a recent gift from Greg Miller [W1983] and it is a beauty.

1919 WC vs DPU001

The Wabash DePauw game is a big event against one of our arch rivals and it is always a hard fought contest. The DePauw game has traditionallyl been a big draw for the fans of both teams and this was why in 1919 it was played in Washington Park in Indianapolis. Here is another look at the game of 1919, the same year as our opening image. This great cartoon was created by J. Allen Saunders [W1920] and printed in the Wabash Magazine in December of 1919 for the summary “Football Issue”.

WM 12 1919 p001

It is clear that Saunders has a talent for cartooning, he would go on to create some of the most notable comics of the mid-twentieth century, and that Wabash was well into its Caveman phase. Note that the Tiger of DePauw has a knot tied in his tail. The 1919 game was played to a tie, one of only nine such in the long series.

In this era Wabash sometimes played in Indianapolis to accommodate the crowds for the biggest games AND for the biggest gate receipts. Nearly all of the student body attended these notable games as at that time there was a reliable and cheap method of transportation to Indianapolis. The Interurban system enabled the fans to travel easily to attend the big games. Here is a former blog post which explains the ease with which anyone from Crawfordsville could travel to Indianapolis.

A hundred years ago…

BUT the game in Indianapolis in 1919 wasn’t yet the Bell Game, because we had no prize until 1932. It was in that year – our Centennial anniversary – that the Monon Railroad donated a bell off of one of their locomotives. The Monon was a line that served both Greencastle and Crawfordsville. It was a bit of a slow starter as the first time we ever played for the Bell the game ended in a tie. Here is summary of that game from the 1933 yearbook. It sounds like a hard fought game between two evenly matched opponents.

1933 YB072

Here is a Bachelor article which explains the gift in more detail.

BA 1932 11 18 p1 Bell for trophy

In a totally different game, here is another write-up from the Wabash Magazine about the 1912 game and although over a hundred years ago, this score seems like some of our more recent games.

1912 WC62 DPU0 WabMag

This team was pretty special and I love the opening sentence, “…using a variety of plays old and new,” which is referring to the daring new play perfected by Wabash coach Jesse Harper. The forward pass was a focus of Coach Harper at Wabash and when he left here to go to Notre Dame, it went with him. It was the key to Notre Dame’s iconic victory over Army in 1913, the game in which Knute Rockne came to national attention.

A rich tradition, the Monon Bell Game. Spirits run high, fans are divided and school spirit runs hot. The Bachelor headline from 1932 perhaps says it best!

BA 1932 11 18 p1

All best,

Beth Swift, Archivist

Wabash College






A little more Bell snow…


Another picture from that same snowy Monon Bell game of 1997. [SEE PREVIOUS POST] In this image we see the Pep Band playing away in the middle of a snowstorm. Snow everywhere! And a close look at the crowd tells us that the Band is almost certainly playing “Dear Old Wabash” which indicates a touchdown for the Little Giants. How cane we know all this from a photo? The Band is playing away and the crowd is singing their hearts out and there’s really only one tune that EVERYBODY knows by heart. Cue the intro, “From the hills of Maine to the Western Plain…” Got to admire the pluck of this band AND the fans too. What a game!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College




Monon Bell – 1997 Forecast? Snow!

PD_329 SnowyWally Bell97


What a day, what a game! Poor old Wally has snow packed in his ears and accumulating on his brow.

Here is another picture of that same game.

PD_329 Sphinx Bell97

The game against DePauw comes late in the season. It might be anything from a snow storm to a mud bowl to a sunny, warm day. Whatever the weather, feelings run hot!



All best,

Beth Swift

Archivist, Wabash College



The Hovey Museum – a pictorial

Hovey P-248 08

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.

Museum PD-383002


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


Museum interior PD-248-03ZOOM


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.


Hovey P-248 05 ZOOM II

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

Museum PD-383001


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.


hovey museum 2 (2)

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


PD35 Hutsinpillar 01 LO


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.

Crawfordsville Mills school LO

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