Monday, January 19, 2009

"To thee and thy mandates..."

Main Hall, Milton College
I attended Milton College in Milton, Wisconsin, as did my brother, father, grandfather, other relatives and many friends. My father and mother served on its faculty for many years. Dad was a professor of Mathematics, Registrar, Acting President, and then, at the end, manager of the college bookstore. Mom was Dean of Women for a time, and instructor of women's physical education. So all of the time I was growing up until I graduated in 1968 much of my life centered around the college — music recitals, Saturday night football and basketball, plays — especially the annual Shakespeare performance, and the library. The library was across the street from our house and I spent many, many hours there, first in the children's section, later graduating to general fiction, and then reading my way through the history books.

Milton was a small, liberal arts college, founded by Seventh Day Baptists, first as an academy in the 1840s and then chartered as a college soon after the Civil War. By the mid-Twentieth century its connection with the denomination had become tenuous and by the time I attended there was essentially none. The college expired in the 1980s, having acquired a lot of debt, never having had any endowment, and failing to find its role in the post Vietnam environment. The buildings are still there, all converted to new uses. This weekend my brother called my attention to a 1962 yearbook, from which these pictures are taken. They are of the old campus. By '62 quite a few new buildings had been added. [click on the images for much larger versions]
Main Hall, Milton College
The first two pictures are of Old Main, the oldest building on campus, part of which dates before the Civil War. The bell in the tower was rung every morning at 7:25. It was my alarm clock, growing up. It was also rung on important occasions — when a game was won, for instance, or when the budget for the year had been raised — thus ensuring another year of Milton College. Most of my history and political science classes were here.

Whitford Hall, Milton College - the college library
Whitford Hall was the location of the library until a new building went up while I was in college. The library where I spent so much time was on the first floor. The rest of the building was science classrooms and labs.

Brick walk to the Music Studio
The walk led from Main Hall up the hill to the Music Studio, where the music department had until very recently been located. The elms were all over campus and all over Milton — lining the walks and the streets. Dutch elm disease was about to take its toll. When it did, it entirely changed the feel both of the campus and the town.

"Our Colors" was the college song. This version comes from the Milton College Carmina, published in 1928. By the time I was a student the school colors had changed to blue and gold, but the rest of the words remained the same. The title of this post is taken from the first verse.

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