David P. Schuyler, Arthur and Katherine Shadek professor of humanities and American studies, and David M. Stameshkin, prefect emeritus of Bonchek College House, led a Common Hour Lecture entitled “Picture This: Images and Stories of F&M’s History” Thursday. The presentation focused on the history of F&M in the context of the country’s history in general.
The lecture was held in place of the Common Hour that was originally scheduled with writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Llosa was forced to cancel due to health and weather-related issues.
However, the fact this Common Hour was not planned far in advance did not prevent it from being highly entertaining and informative. The talk included tidbits of F&M’s history students would be hard-pressed to learn elsewhere and was accompanied by visuals of all types, including maps of the campus and old buildings, cartoons of student life, photos of early athletic teams, literary societies, and print journals.
“Franklin College was founded on the basis of Ben Franklin’s ideas of education and public service or citizenship, which is the commitment that people should have to their communities,” Schuyler said.
Stameshkin said Franklin’s donation of 200 British pounds to erect Franklin College adjusts for inflation to more than $1,000,000. Franklin was one of the most famous people in the world at this time, making it especially significant that his name was bestowed upon the school.
“In 1787, this is a time when we were forming a republic and people believed that republics couldn’t make it without a citizenry that really cared about its government,” Stameshkin said. “The school’s mission — and one of the reasons why it was founded — was to teach students to become good citizens of the American Republic.”
From its beginning, Franklin College’s student body was diverse. Students were of different religious faiths, including Christianity and Judaism, and the school was coeducational. The first Jewish woman to attend a college in North America was Richea Gratz, a member of the first class at the College. However, the College soon changed to being all male, and did not begin accepting women again until 1969. Also, classes were held in English and German, making it the first bilingual college in the country.
“The dedication of Franklin College was unique because the dedication program had to be printed in two languages, English and German,” said Schuyler. “About 90 percent of the residents of Lancaster were Germans or of Germanic descent.”
Marshall College, named after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall and founded in 1836 in Mercersburg, P.A., was formed under the sponsorship of the German Reformed Church. Its faculty was world-class and inculcated in its students a tradition of religion and civic engagement.
The first principal of Franklin College was Henry Muhlenberg, who was simultaneously the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. Frederick Augustus Rauch was the first president of Marshall College and was highly revered on campus. Muhlenberg and Rauch both have halls named after them in Ware College House.
The merger of the two colleges in 1853 and its relocation to Lancaster was orchestrated by James Buchanan, the president of the Franklin College Board of Trustees at the time. For many years leading up to the merger, Franklin College had no students, classes, or graduates, whereas Marshall College had a vibrant intellectual tradition and flourishing classes and students, but ailing financial circumstances. F&M became a member of the German Reformed Church after the merger.
The campus’s first building, originally named the College House and since renamed Old Main, was built in 1854 and held all the College’s classes.
“Originally, the Trustees built two fences around the building to keep cows from nearby from grazing on campus,” Schuyler said.
Goethean Hall and Diagnothian Hall were built soon after in the late 1850s through money raised by students. The buildings housed the Goethean Literary Society and the Diagnothian Literary Society, which were enormously popular and competitive with one another. The societies each had their own libraries, which were better than the College’s almost non-existent main library at the time.
“The societies were very independent of the faculty, but the faculty loved them because kids were doing things they really wanted them to do, which was oratory and debates,” Stameshkin said. “Everyone was a philosopher at this time. The stuff the students talked about was very different than some of the stuff you guys talk about today.”
In 1857 a Botany professor encouraged students to plant trees around campus, and at least one of those trees still survives on the south side of Keiper. One student who helped plant the trees, Henry Kyd Douglas, kept a diary during his years at F&M. He wrote an entry wondering who in the future would rest in the shade of the trees he had planted.
“I asked Public Safety last night how many people they had found sleeping in the shade of that tree, and it was four last weekend,” Stameshkin said.
By the 1860s change was occurring with the German Reformed Church. Ursinus College was formed in 1869 by a faction of people who had broken off from F&M and wanted to teach a simpler form of the religion.
“We were a cause for the founding of Ursinus,” Stameshkin said. “So next time you guys are playing Ursinus [in sports] you can tell them that they wouldn’t be here without us.”
The increasing size of the student body in the late 1800s allowed student life to develop. More extra-curricular activities were formed, such as the football team and other sports, a glee club, more literary societies, and the Green Room Club.
The College built its first dorm in 1871, called Harbaugh Hall, which was built on the site where Stager Hall currently stands. The dorm was poorly designed and torn down in 1900. In the early 1900s there were very few students living on campus, so questions arose of how students should form a community among themselves.
“Many students formed eating clubs off campus, and some of these eating clubs became the early fraternities,” Schuyler said. “The eating club would attach itself to a national fraternity. Of the early eating clubs, Franklin Club became Sigma Pi, Marshall Club became Phi Kappa Tau, and the Paradise Club became Kappa Sigma.”
Stager Hall was originally named Stahr Hall after John Summers Stahr, president of F&M from 1889 to 1909, who modernized the curriculum by adding the natural sciences to the traditional liberal arts curriculum. Stahr originally housed science classrooms and labs, which were cutting edge in the early 1900s. The building was thoroughly renovated in 1935 and renamed Stager Hall, although Stahr Auditorium remains in Stager in Stahr’s memory.
Hartman Hall was built from 1907 to 1908 and was named after Edwin M. Hartman, the president of the F&M Academy, which was housed in Hartman. The Academy was a pre-college program for high school students the administration started in the hope that many of the students who participated would later matriculate to F&M for college and boost its enrollment. The Academy program ended and Hartman was torn down in 1975. Hartman Green was built in its place and named after Hartman to preserve his memory.
Keiper was built in 1937, as well as a new library called Fackenthal Library, named after a chairman of the Board of Trustees. Fackenthal was renovated and expanded in 1983 and renamed Shadek-Fackenthal after Arthur Shadek, a member of the Board of Trustees and large donor to the renovation.
In 1938 a mural was painted in the lobby of the library, with the phrase, “Research, Practical and Philosophical, Looks to the Past and Future in Generations of Men” on it, and still can be seen in the reference room of the library today.
“This is a nice piece of F&M’s history because you can see the emphasis on the pre-healing arts and scientific research and a lot of things that were then and continue to be important to what we are as a college,” Stameshkin said.
Since 1945 the college has moved in many new directions. In keeping with the national trend of most colleges becoming residential after WWII, F&M built most of its current resident halls from 1954 to 1966 and by 1966 the College was housing most of its students.
“The whole College House system of the early 2000s is an attempt to upgrade our housing,” Stameshkin said. “As a former prefect, I know that we do more than sleep in our dormitories. We want to integrate academic and domestic life.”
F&M’s diversity increased as well — the first African-American student entered in 1946, and in 1969 women were admitted for the first time since the first class of Franklin College that had included women 182 years before.
“An interdisciplinary curriculum was also encouraged much more, starting in the 1970s, as we moved from a fairly rigidly departmental structure to a curriculum that reflects that we are living in an interdisciplinary world,” Schuyler said.
During a question-and-answer session, questions ranged from whether there had ever been quotas for the number of Jewish students admitted to F&M to the original location of the President’s house.
Schuyler closed the talk with a photo of the bicentennial celebration of F&M in 1987, which included a parade from the campus to the Fulton Opera House, where the college had been dedicated 200 years before.
“The College has a long and distinguished history, and we are now part of it,” Schuyler said. “You’re not just passing through this place in four years on your way somewhere else. You now have taken your place within the history of a college that goes back 225 years and that will continue to go forward.”
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