Chapter 2 -- McBryde Years
The Administration Of President McBryde
The spring of 1891 saw another reorganization of the college, ushered in by the resignation of General Lomax as president. The board also declared vacant the chairs of English, biology, bookkeeping, and commercial law.
On May 7, 1891, the board unanimously elected as president and director of the experiment station, Dr. John M. McBryde, then president of the University of South Carolina, giving him a very free hand in selecting his own associates and formulating his own policies. During the interim, Professor J. E. Christian had acted as president and he was re-elected to the chair of mathematics.
In accordance with Dr. McBryde's carefully considered plan of reorganization, the following departments were created: agricultural chemistry, President McBryde; mathematics and civil engineering, Professor Christian, Assistant Professor Harmon, Instructor Hurt; mechanical engineering, Professor Fitts; horticulture, entomology, and mycology, Professor Alwood; English, history and political economy, Dr. Sheib; biology, Professor Smyth; modern languages, Adjunct Professor Campbell; electrical engineering and physics, Adjunct Professor Anderson; general chemistry, geology and mineralogy, Adjunct Professor R. C. Price; analytical chemistry, Adjunct Professor Davidson; agriculture, Adjunct Professor Nourse, veterinary science, Adjunct Professor Niles; woodwork, Instructor Bray; iron work, Instructor W. N. Cunningham; bookkeeping, Mr. W. W. Hurt. Mr. Hurt was also appointed secretary of the faculty, Mr. A. W. Drinkard ('93), librarian, and Mr. G. W. Fleet, marshal.
Session of 1891-92. With the foregoing faculty, the session of 1891-92 opened. Seven courses of study were offered, of 4 years each, leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science, namely, agriculture; horticulture; applied chemistry; general science; civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering; and two shorter courses in practical mechanics and practical agriculture, in which certificates only were given. Postgraduate courses were offered leading to the degrees of M.S., C.E., M.E., and E.E.
The mess and kitchen for some time past and into the session of 1891-92 had been in the basement of Academic Building No. 1. The students, seated on stools, ate at long, bare tables. Napkins were unknown luxuries. Some of the bachelor professors, and one or two married professors with their wives, had a separate table in a corner of the same room, which occupied the whole of the western part of the basement. Whether they received better fare or not, many longing glances were cast by student eyes at this "table of privilege." Toward the end of this session the mess was moved to the old two-story wooden building still standing by the "pavilion" to the east of the northeast entrance to the old campus. As already stated, the original brick building of the Preston-Olin Institute had been converted into the machine shop. The only barrack then was No.1, with the tower, and several of the unmarried professors had rooms therein.
The class of 1892 was the first to adopt a senior uniform of dark blue trousers to match the elaborately braided senior blouse of blue, and the under-classes wore the uniform of dark blue blouse and gray trousers. The use of the gray coatee was discontinued by the authorities.
The Athletic Association was organized in September, 1891, with J. A. Massie as president, and after much discussion black and cadet-gray were adopted as the college colors, and the college yell was finally chosen to be:
"Rip Rah Ree! Va., Va., Vee!
A. M. C!"
As the title of the college was at that time merely "The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, "Virginia A.M.C." was meant to represent that title. Some attempt was made to arouse an interest in football. Messrs. Massie, Stull, Pratt, Friend, and Lovenstein, and Professor Smyth, tried to arouse intelligent enthusiasm in the modern game. It was not, however, until the fall of 1892 that any team was chosen to represent the college, at which time, Professor Anderson also lent his influence and person to the team. St. Alban's School, then a flourishing preparatory school under Colonel Miles, at Radford, was the only rival we attempted to win laurels from, and baseball was also rather inchoate. Tennis received some attention, and a tennis association was formed. The history of athletics is too voluminous and important to be attempted here, and those interested are referred to "The Bugle" of 1903 for the facts up to the year of that volume.
During this session the corps decided to revive publication of "The Gray Jacket," dormant since 1889, and Mr. A. W. Drinkard was the first editor of this revival. The first trip of the corps as a military organization was taken on June 17, 1892. The corps, consisting of two companies of 30 men each, attended the decennial celebration of Roanoke City.
The Effinger house, adjoining the north corner of the campus, near where now stands the Science Hall, was purchased and used as an infirmary. Later, this house was torn down and the material used in part to build the house now occupied by Professor C. Lee. Painter's spring, near Colonel Palmer's property, to the northeast of the town, was purchased and the water conducted by gravity to a reservoir by the shops, whence it was pumped to a tank in the tower of barrack No. 1. Up to this date, water had been pumped by ram from the stream by the quarry. The land where "faculty row" now stands, down to the old orchard by the ice-pond, was a wheat field, later used as a brick-yard.
The catalogue for 1891-92 gives a total of 116 students, though there were only about 80 in attendance at Commencement. For these Commencement exercises a large tent was secured, as the college had no suitable hall. The tent was pitched on the level ground, now grown up in trees, southeast of the present infirmary, and a rain storm during the Sunday exercises necessitated a liberal use of umbrellas among the audience.
Among new appointments were the following: Mr. T. L. Watson, now professor of geology at the University of Virginia, as instructor in geology, and Mr. C. G. Porcher in forge work.
Session of 1892-93. Among matters of interest during the first of this session was the organization of a cadet band of sixteen brass pieces under the leadership of Cadet Clifford Anderson. Like many young organizations it was very crude, the relative merits of the different performers being gauged by the amount of wind power they could put into a blast. No one now hearing our excellent band would realize what its early character was from a musical standpoint. The band now attracts men who are already performers; then, with hardly an exception, no man could read music or knew even how to blow his horn. As already mentioned, the first football team in the history of the college was put on the field this autumn, with Professor Anderson as captain.
The mess was moved to the large wooden building known as the "pavilion," still standing northeast of the present mess-hall, and was under the charge of Mrs. Crockett. A wooden building of nine rooms was built as a veterinary infirmary, near the horticultural building—now the offices of the extension division. This wooden building was later moved to the southeast of the stone agricultural building where it still stands. A one-story brick building was erected for forge and foundry work, and this still stands by the site of the old shops, east of the mess-hall. Two three-inch rifles were furnished to the college by the War Department, forming the nucleus of the subsequently organized battery.
Among student activities was the formation of the Thespian Club, which enlivened student life by giving rather creditable minstrel shows. The boys purchased wigs, and made various "properties." This organization continued in existence until about 1899, giving in the course of its life some very good entertainments of a much more ambitious character than mere minstrel shows. An effort was made to start also an orchestra. This was composed largely of decidedly amateur performers who played almost entirely by ear. It was called "The Lost Chord Band" and consisted of guitars, cornet, violin and clarinet. It did not live very long.
The corps of cadets, consisting of three companies and the band, attended the naval rendezvous at Norfolk in April, 1893. It was here that Captain Finch's picked company won the prize of two hundred and fifty dollars in a competitive drill against two competitors. The V. M. I. corps was scheduled to appear in the contest but it did not come on the field. By vote of the corps, this money was used by Colonel Harmon to purchase two 3-inch rifles, which, with the two already here, were later used by the battery. These two cannon now stand, and for some time past have stood, on guard in front of the esplanade of Barrack No. 1. A powder magazine was built below the hill, in front of Academic Building No.1, to store the increased amount of ammunition furnished by the War Department. This brick vault, now removed, used to be pointed out to credulous visitors as the mortuary vault of our dead presidents.
Commencement exercises were held in the old pavilion.
The following faculty changes were made: promotions, adjunct professor to professor, Messrs. Campbell, Price, Nourse, Davidson, and Niles; Colonel Harmon was made acting professor of mathematics; Professor Anderson, Mr. Cunningham, and Mr. Bray resigned, and Messrs. P. C. Hubbard and J. R. Parrott (a former student), both of Lynchburg, were appointed instructors in machine shop and wood shop respectively; Mr. J. P. Harvey, of Blacksburg, was given charge of the band.
The college sustained a loss through the death of Professor James Fitts, of the department of mechanical engineering, who was killed near Welch, West Virginia, in a railroad accident, while on his way to the Chicago exposition.
In August, 1893, Professor S. R. Pritchard was appointed to the chair of electrical engineering and physics; and in September of the same year Mr. L. S. Randolph, of Baltimore, was appointed to the chair of mechanical engineering.
A creamery and cheese factory was built out of the proceeds of farm crops, in the low ground between Professor Pritchard's present home and the stone agricultural building. This low ground, up to and including the present athletic field, was used by the horticultural department as vegetable gardens. The products from these gardens were sold to the professors, but later such products were used in the cannery (built near the creamery) and sold for home consumption.
The catalogue for 1892-93 gives an attendance of 177 students.
Session of 1893-94. The possession of four cannon made possible the formation of a battery, at the opening of this session, with cadet Captain A. Hull Apperson in charge. The old wooden shops building (now a store house) was equipped as a steam laundry under the charge of Mr. D. O. Matthews.
On October 18 the college was again called upon to sustain a loss in the faculty through the death of Professor J. E. Christian, who had been a member of the faculty since 1880.
The third trip of the corps as a military body occurred on May 29. The occasion was the unveiling, in Richmond, of the monument to the soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy. Three companies of infantry, and the band, composed the battalion, which remained in Richmond until June 2, encamped near the Lee monument. The cadets were an escort of honor to Governor O'Ferrall. On the return from the ceremonies a heavy downpour of rain dampened the ardor and uniforms of the boys; but the band, though drenched to the skin, struck up "the Washington Post" march and saved the day. Cadets of that day will remember the episode of the muddy white trousers.
In June, Dr. S. M. Barton was appointed adjunct professor of mathematics and civil engineering.
Attendance for the session, 236.
During the summer, the land to the right of the road leading to the horticultural and experiment station building (now the extension building) was leveled, and a boulevard was constructed from the old chestnut tree (still standing by the Y. M. C. A. building) to the horticultural building. Along this boulevard "faculty row" was later gradually built.
Session of 1894-95. A new dormitory (No.2), a brick building of fifty-five rooms, was completed by October. A fourth infantry company was organized. This fall signalized our first entry into state athletics, and our first game with V. M. I., played in Staunton on November 28, result V. M. I., 10; V. A. M. C., 6.
Up to this date there had been practically no athletic field, the games at home being played back of Barrack No, 1 or down about where the sewage disposal plant now is. President McBryde assigned to the athletic association for their use, and for a drill field, a portion of the horticultural gardens next to the grounds of Professor Campbell's house, later removed. This field was not leveled then, but had a gradual fall toward the southwest. However, it seemed level compared with what had been our only grounds. When, in later years, the field was leveled and put in its present good shape, and the hill toward Professor Campbell's house, where now stands the field house, cut down as it now is, it was a surprise to even those who had played and drilled there to see what a fall there really was to the land.
The Y. M. C. A. issued its first handbook, though then it had no building.
During the session, six professors' houses, of brick, were erected on "faculty row." The nearest of these to the barracks, built for Professor R. C. Price and later occupied by Professor Vawter, was torn down when the present stone shops were built.
On December 7, Judge Gardner died. He had been the treasurer for a long time, and his loss was deeply felt. Mr. C. I. Wade, of Christiansburg, was appointed in his place.
The equipment of the battery was, largely through the efforts of the corps, further increased by the purchase of forty sabres.
This was the winter of the big snow, when town and college alike suffered a coal famine. There were no stone roads then, and no railroad from Christiansburg, all communication being by horse power; the auto was a thing of the future. The whole community was out of touch with the world for a few days, as no vehicle could get to or from Christiansburg, and the deep cuts in the roads to the coal mines were drifted high with snow. Volunteers were called for, and students and townsmen turned out in a body and cleared a road to Brush Mountain and the coal mines through deep drifts, in places over ten feet in depth.
The new mess and Commencement hall, a large two-story brick building, was completed in the spring. The large addition to the north, containing now the private mess and the bakery, was, however, a later addition. The hall was finished in time for Commencement.
Adjunct Professor Pritchard was promoted to a full professorship, and Assistant W. W. Hurt to an assistant professorship; Mr. W. D. Saunders was made superintendent of the creamery and assistant professor of dairy husbandry; Mr. W. G. Conner ('92), instructor in wood-work; Mr. J. M. Johnson, of the Miller School, instructor in forge and foundry; Mr. A. T. Eskridge ('94), instructor in geology; Mr. W. H. Rasche, of the Miller School, assistant in drawing; and Mr. L. W. Jerrell ('94), assistant in wood-work.
The first issue of "The Bugle," published thereafter annually by the senior class, appeared at this Commencement. It was a very modest volume compared with the sumptuous editions of later years, but the editors considered it as quite an achievement. The cost to the purchaser was only $1.50.
Attendance this session, 325.
In the summer Mr. T. L. Watson resigned the instructorship in geology, and Dr. S. M. Barton the chair of mathematics and civil engineering. This latter chair was then divided, Colonel William Patton, of Lexington, was elected to the chair of civil engineering, and the commandant, Lieutenant D. C. Shanks (now Major-General Shanks) was appointed professor of mathematics.
Session of 1895-96. The mess was moved from the old pavilion to the new mess-hall, where it now is. The Legislature authorized the college to issue bonds to the amount of $15,000 to erect a water tower, which was built under the direction of Colonel Patton and Professor Randolph, the board having purchased fifty acres from the Houston estate to secure the spring which is still the source of our water supply.
Another important event at this time was the act of the Legislature allowing the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to be legally known as "The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute," whence comes our well known "V. P. I." The Legislature placed under the jurisdiction of the experiment station at Blacksburg the cattle quarantine and the enforcement of laws with regard to insects injurious to fruit culture. Professor W. B. Alwood was made state entomologist, and Dr. E. P. Niles was made state veterinarian.
The Christmas holidays were increased by two weeks and the spring session was lengthened to enable the corps to take part in the Confederate reunion at Richmond, in late June. Commencement was on June 19, and on June 24 the battalion, of four companies of infantry, one battery of light artillery, the band and staff officers, left for Richmond, where they arrived at 6 P. M. The cadets were escorted by one of the military companies to their camp near the Soldiers' Home. The students had invited as their guest on the trip our veteran chaplain, Rev. George Gray, and had presented him with a suitable chaplain's uniform. The old gentleman considered it a duty of honor to march by the side of the corps the whole distance from the depot to the camp at the Soldiers' Home, and his venerable and military appearance excited much interest along the line of march. The exhibition drills and parades drew large crowds, and the sham battle roused to such a pitch of excitement the old soldiers present that several of them tried to assume control of the artillery and direct the boys when and how to work the guns. At the laying of the cornerstone for the Jefferson Davis monument, the band by request furnished music during the exercises. That afternoon Colonel Shanks dismissed the battalion, and the cadets returned to their homes.
During this session, dissatisfied with the black and gray colors which had been adopted, and which were unpleasantly suggestive when worn in stripes, the corps, with the help of Dr. Sheib and others investigated the matter of colors, taking note of those already adopted by the colleges of the country. Finding that orange and maroon made at that time an unique combination, not in use elsewhere, these were adopted as the official college colors, in the fall of 1896. They were first worn by an athletic team on October 20, 1896, in a game against Roanoke College. At this time also, the college yell of "Rip, Rah, Ree," etc., was abandoned, and after some competition and many suggestions the now familiar "Hokie, Hokie" cheer became the standard yell.
In the spring of 1896 Field-day exercises were held for the first time. There was no graded running track, scarcely any appliances for hurdles, jumping, etc., save what had been made and improvised by the boys themselves. None of the contestants had done any preliminary training at all, yet some good records were made, such as the running broad jump of over nineteen feet by Luther Johns. Ingles, too, made the hundred-yard dash in ten seconds. First place was won by Lewis Ingles, who was adjudged the best all-around athlete, with Johns as second.
Instructor Parrott was promoted to be assistant professor; and the following were promoted from assistants to instructors: A. W. Drinkard ('93); J. W. Stull ('93); F. D. Wilson ('94); L. W. Jerrell ('95); F. S. Roop ('97) was made instructor in veterinary science, and C. G. Guignard, assistant in machine work. Dr. Kent Black, one of the college physicians, resigned, leaving Dr. Henderson in sole charge.
Session of 1896-97. Instructor F. D. Wilson resigned to study at Johns Hopkins, and Mr. W. B. Ellett was appointed to fill his place in the chemistry department.
An entertainment for the benefit of athletics, that will be remembered with amusement by the alumni of that day, was the presentation of "Mrs. Jarley's wax works," gotten up by Miss Susie McBryde. One of the features of this entertainment was our 240-pound football guard, "Jumbo" Pelter, over six feet tall, who was dressed to suit the character of "Little Nell."
During the spring, the new water-works system was completed; the tank, elevated 150 feet above the level of the athletic field, had a capacity of 50,000 gallons.
In June, Assistant Rasche was made instructor, and R. C. Stuart ('95) was made assistant in machine work.
Session of 1897-98. By this time, through the untiring interest of Dr. Sheib, athletics had been placed on a fairly firm basis, and the need was evident for a college paper especially devoted to the interests of athletics, although the "Gray Jacket," a publication of more literary pretensions, had always had a department devoted to this branch of college life. Accordingly, "The Cohee" was established, largely through the efforts of Mr. S. H. Sheib, a nephew of Dr. Sheib. The first issue appeared on December 8, 1897, and the paper lived until June, 1898, when, through lack of financial support, it suspended. It was a bright, newsy sheet, covering points of general interest in college news, as well as athletics. About this time two other organizations were started, which did much to help in general college life. A dramatic club, under the name of "Puffs and Queues," was developed through the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Sheib and the Misses Patton, aided by some of the best talent among the students. Some excellent selections were successfully attempted, some that had run well on the boards of large theaters, such as "Charley's aunt," "All on account of a sandwich," etc. The "Thespian Club" had not discontinued, but it was composed entirely of students. The need for a good orchestra called to the front a small group of music lovers, including some of the ladies of the faculty, and for three sessions these worked together, with some additions, developing an orchestra of no mean merit. The original members were: Miss Margaret Patton, piano; Mrs. W. D. Saunders, violin; Frank Carper, violin; Joe Brown, cornet; "Bill" Cox, bass horn; "Chess" Brown, double bass fiddle; Professor Smyth, clarinet. Later, Mr. Jackson, violin, and H. C. Michie, clarinet, were added; and during the last year of the existence of the orchestra, Mrs. R. C. Price was pianist, and "Jack" Eoff, violinist. The bass violin purchased by this orchestra is still doing duty in the orchestra.
On May 17, 1898, field-day was again observed, though again without much preliminary training. Curtis Rorebeck easily won first place as best all-around athlete, and Cannon and Bean (now Dr. R. Bennett Bean, of the University of Virginia) tied for the second place.
This was the year of the Spanish-American war, and "The Cohee" for April, 1898, contains a copy of a communication to Governor Hoge Tyler from the corps, tendering their services in a body for the defense of their country, and petitioning that the Governor request the U. S. War Department, in the event of the acceptance of the offer of the corps, to detail Lieutenant Shanks as commandant of the corps. This petition is signed by
J. B. Danforth, Capt. Co. D.
J. A. Burruss, Capt. Battery E.
Benjamin Harrison, Capt. Co. B.
Edward Graham, Capt. Co. C.
J. S. A. Johnson, Capt. Co. A.
The corps, however, was not called on, and Colonel Shanks, who had been our commandant for four years, was ordered for duty elsewhere, eventually winning laurels as commandant of Iloilo in the Philippines. Many of the boys entered service in the army, and nearly the whole of the band were on duty in camp in Florida.
During this session a cannery was erected near the creamery. This preserved the products from the horticultural grounds for use in the mess and for sale also.
Rev. George T. Gray, our senior chaplain, died on October 29, and was buried with military honors.
Dr. A. T. Finch ('92) was appointed commandant of cadets and assistant professor of physiology and materia medica.
Dr. Roop resigning, Dr. Charles M. McCulloch was appointed assistant professor of veterinary science and state veterinarian. Assistant Professor Parrott was made adjunct professor, and Mr. C. D. Taliaferro was made secretary to the president. Mr. J. P. Harvey resigned as leader of the band, being on duty in Florida, and Mr. Frank Carper was appointed in his place.
Attendance this session, 333.
Session of 1898-99. In July Mr. D. O. Matthews was made marshal. In August Dr. E. E. Sheib and Professor Walker Hurt resigned. Dr. R. H. Hudnall was elected to the chair of English, and Mr. G. W. Walker was appointed assistant professor of mathematics, English and Latin. The department of electrical engineering and physics was divided and Mr. C. E. Vawter, a son of the rector of the board of visitors, was appointed acting professor of mathematics and physics. Mr. A. W. Drinkard was made secretary of the faculty.
A refrigerating plant was erected in connection with the wooden creamery building. Up to this date the college was supplied with ice from the ice-pond, all the faculty subscribing to the expense of the underground ice-house, which was about opposite the house now occupied by Dr. Watson. Later, two ice-houses were built "under the spreading chestnut tree," still alive, near the Y. M. C. A. building. These were discontinued when the refrigerating plant was built.
Captain C. E. Vawter, who had been rector of the board since the reorganization of the college in 1890, and who had served the college for fourteen years, resigned, and Mr. J. Thompson Brown was appointed rector in his stead.
On June 20, 1899, was laid the corner-stone of the Y. M. C. A. building, a triumph to the devotion and energy of Mr. Lawrence Priddy, who had traveled north and south to secure the funds therefor. The building was constructed by Mr. Wesley Gray, of Blacksburg.
Attendance this session, 303.
Session of 1899-1900. The offices of the president, commandant, and treasurer were moved in September from Academic Building No. 1 to the rock house, occupied at one time as a residence by Professor Morton, and later by Professor Alwood. The latter moved to the house built for him in the old orchard, now the residence of Dr. Watson. On the night of February 14, 1900, the rock house was destroyed by fire, in spite of the efforts of the fire brigade. The wind was blowing a gale and the thermometer was about ten degrees above zero. Colonel Finch managed to break into his office on the ground floor and save his records. The contents of the college safe, including the class records, were subsequently found intact, though the safe had fallen through into the basement. The executive offices were then moved to the house formerly occupied by Professor Christian, and later always known as the commandant's house, which at this date was not in use, as Colonel Finch was living elsewhere.
A bond issue of $100,000 was authorized by the Legislature for buildings and equipment. During the spring the outbuildings and fences of the old Christian house (now the commandant's house) were removed and the grounds thrown into the campus. On April 1, Dr. John Spencer, of Canada, was appointed to succeed Dr. McCulloch.
In May, the corps, under Colonel Finch, attended the carnival in Richmond, was quartered in the auditorium at the fair grounds and took part in the parade.
In June, Dr. Finch resigned, and Mr. J. S. A. Johnson ('98) was appointed assistant professor of mechanical engineering and military science, and commandant of cadets. Dr. F. D. Wilson ('94) was made instructor in, chemistry. Instructors Conner and Rasche were promoted to the rank of assistant professor. Mr. Frank Carper resigned as director of the band and Mr. J. P. Harvey was reappointed. Mr. John Shultz was appointed mess steward.
A uniform department was created with Mr. T. J. Walsh, formerly first assistant cutter at West Point, as superintendent. The department was assigned the Starkey house, recently purchased, and later used as a residence for Dr. Barlow. Now, completely rebuilt, this house is occupied by Professor Stahl. The Camper property to the west of the mess hall was purchased, and a wooden house was erected for Mr. Shultz. This is now occupied by Mr. Owens.
Session of 1900-1901. Professor Pritchard's house was finished in September and a new brick dormitory (No.3) of four stories and sixty rooms was completed, thus finishing the south side of the front quadrangle.
A stone structure to the north of the dormitories, on the site of the baseball grounds of 1890-91, was completed during the fall for use as a heating-plant, and in April the electric light plant was moved from the machine shop and installed in this building. This furnished power for the campus and town lights, and steam heat for the dormitories, Science Hall and Y. M. C. A. building.
The corps, under Colonel Johnson, attended in June the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, being quartered in tents on the exposition grounds. The boys returned on June 9, before Commencement.
In June, Dr. F. D. Wilson and Mr. H. L. Price ('98) were promoted to assistant professorships, and Assistant Waddell was made an instructor. The following new appointments were made: A. P. Spencer, of Canada, instructor in animal husbandry; S. B. Andrews, machine work, and H. M. Faulkner, forge and foundry.
The Willis property, west of the mess hall, was purchased and the house remodeled for a dwelling for Mr. D. O. Matthews. This is now the residence of Professor Gudheim.
Session of 1901-1902. The athletic and parade grounds, which in 1894 had been located on a part of the grounds to the southwest of Professor Campbell's house (which stood between the present library and the field house), were increased by a further grant of land from the horticultural tract, and the department of horticulture was given 25 acres across the stream west of the ice-pond. No attempt had as yet been made to grade and level the athletic field, which sloped gradually to the south, as may now be seen by the slope at the field house, and the bank at the south end of the field.
The new building erected as a science hall was sufficiently completed for occupation, and housed the departments of chemistry, geology, biology, and physics, with electrical engineering in the basement. The Y. M. C. A. building was opened in September, with Mr. H. J. McIntyre, of Salem, as general secretary. The First Academic building, vacated by the removal of the administrative offices and the chemical department, was assigned to civil and mechanical engineering and drawing, and contained also the armory. The Second Academic building, after the removal of the departments of biology, physics, and electrical engineering was assigned to English and modern languages on the main floor and basement. The Lee and Maury Societies, and the library, as heretofore, still occupied the second floor, the lofty ceilings of which were then on a level with the eaves of the building.
On April 1, the corps of five infantry companies, the battery, band and drum-corps, left Christiansburg under the command of Colonel Johnson for the exposition in Charleston, S. C. The president, Dr. McBryde, and a number of the faculty and others accompanied the corps. On arrival in Charleston the corps was quartered on the exposition grounds. In spite of a cold, raw spell of weather, there were many enjoyable incidents, and the daily exhibition drills on the grounds were highly complimented and attracted crowds of spectators. Through the influence of Mayor Smyth, the corps was assigned an important position in the parade which escorted President Roosevelt through the city to the exposition grounds, where the President of the United States reviewed the trooys [sic]. The many bands in the parade played various marches, mostly national, as they passed in review. As V. P. I. drew near the balcony in which the president stood, Mayor Smyth said to him, "Now here come my boys." At that moment, as though preconcerted, our band struck up "Dixie"—the only time it had been played on the march. The president's characteristic smile was all that could be seen of his face, as he waved enthusiastically to the corps, and the crowd went wild.
In the latter part of April President McBryde moved into the new house in the grove, still the president's house, and the outbuildings and fences around the old house were removed preparatory to converting this into the infirmary.
This being the tenth year of Dr. McBryde's administration, a movement was started, with Dr. F. D. Wilson as chairman, for a decennial celebration at Commencement. With the hearty approval and cooperation of alumni and former students sufficient funds were raised to purchase tablets to the memory of Professors Fitts and Christian, and to have painted a fine portrait of Dr. McBryde by Bransom. At Commencement, Dr. W. E. Dodd ('95), now of the University of Chicago, in behalf of the alumni, presented the portrait of Dr. McBryde; Judge W. M. Pierce ('84) presented the tablet commemorative of Professor Christian; and Rev. E. P. Miner ('93), the tablet in memory of Professor Fitts. This portrait and two tablets are now on the walls of the library. A duplicate of the portrait was presented to Dr. McBryde by the students and faculty.
In June Assistant Professor Spencer succeeded Dr. Niles, resigned, as professor of veterinary medicine; Adjunct Professor Parrott was made professor; Assistant Professor J. S. A. Johnson was promoted to be professor of military science and tactics and adjunct professor of mechanical engineering; and the following were promoted from assistant professor to adjunct professor: W. D. Saunders, G. W. Walker, F. D. Wilson ('94), and H. L. Price ('98), and Instructor A. W. Drinkard ('93) was made assistant professor. New appointments: Dr. Meade Ferguson ('96), assistant professor of agriculture; Dr. J. G. Ferneyhough ('98), assistant professor of veterinary science and state veterinarian; W. M. Brodie ('01), assistant in mathematics and first assistant commandant; T. G. Wood ('01), second assistant commandant; J. F. Strauss ('94), assistant in drawing; C. P. Miles ('01), assistant in French and German; J. L. Phillips ('97), assistant state entomologist and pathologist; and C. D. Taliaferro, registrar.
During the session a system of sewerage, with sewage disposal plant was completed. This system is now no longer in use. The house and grounds now occupied by Professor Campbell had been the old Francisco place, and in the early '90s had been rented as an infirmary by the college. Subsequently it had been bought and enlarged by Mr. Hampton Hoge, and the handsome boxwood avenue in front of the house cut down. This house, with six acres of land, was now purchased by the college and assigned to Professor Campbell as a residence.
Session of 1902-03. In September, Professor Campbell's old residence, formerly occupied by Dr. Martin P. Scott and later by Professor Fitts, was fitted up and assigned to the department of agriculture for lecture and laboratory rooms. The outbuildings and fences were removed and the grounds thrown into the campus. As before stated, this house was torn down when the building now used as a library was erected as the auditorium, and its material was used to construct a house for Dr. Hudnall, now occupied by Professor Burkhart. Professor Parrott's residence was also built on the recently purchased Gitt property, and Professor Lee's house, built largely of material from the old Effinger house (once used as an infirmary, in 1891), was erected, largely by Professor Lee himself. The college post-office and book-room was established in the marshal's office and an adjoining room in Barrack No. 1. Professor Alwood's new residence, in the old "Solitude" orchard, was completed in the fall. It was then the next house in faculty row, south of the house now occupied by Dr. Newman, and the next south of it was the old "Solitude" mansion, then occupied by Professor Nourse, and now by Professor Saunders. Dr. Watson now occupies the Alwood house.
In June, 1903, the new office of dean of the faculty was created, and Professor Smyth, who had for some time been performing the duties usually assigned to such an office, was made officially dean of the faculty, being the first occupant of the office. Dr. J. E. Williams was elected adjunct professor of mathematics and Mr. H. L. Wilson, of geology and mineralogy; Mr. J. B. McBryde, assistant professor of organic chemistry, and Dr. C. M. Newman, of English; the following instructors were apponted [sic]: G. L. Fentress, mathematics; J. R. C. Brown, Spanish and history; and P. H. Eley, English and Spanish; and J. H. Gibboney ('01), assistant in analytical chemistry and assistant chemist at the experiment station. Promotions were made as follows: assistant professor to adjunct professor, Messrs. Conner ('92), Rasche, Ferguson ('96); assistant to instructor, Messrs. Brodie, Wood, Miles, and Moncure, the latter all alumni.
Attendance this session, 627.
Session of 1903-04. In August, Miss M. G. Lacy was appointed librarian, and Major B. R. Selden, registrar, to succeed Mr. C. D. Taliaferro, who died in July. A brick building was completed with a lower floor for the laundry department and an upper floor for the tailor shop. This is the building now used entirely for the laundry department. The old Starkey cottage, used as a tailor shop, was assigned to the state entomologist, J. R. Phillips, for office and laboratories.
This session saw the birth of "The Virginia Tech," the delayed successor to the short-lived "Cohee." "The Tech" was the official organ of the athletic association, and started with Professor J. B. McBryde as editor-in-chief, the associate editors being four faculty members and a representative from each of the classes. The first issue appeared on October 7, 1903. The bleachers were also erected on the athletic grounds through the activity of "The Tech" and presented to the association.
The old rock house, first a residence and then used as an administration building, which was destroyed by fire on February 14, 1900, was rebuilt and enlarged and reoccupied by the executive department in April, 1904. It contained the offices of the president, dean, commandant, registrar, and secretary, and the fireproof vault.
On April 19, President McBryde was unanimously elected president of the University of Virginia by its board of visitors, being the first president-elect of the University. Dr. McBryde, however, declined the honor, stating his reasons in full in a letter addressed to the board, extracts from which letter were published in the daily papers of the state. It will be of interest also to mention here that in 1893 President Grover Cleveland had offered to Dr. McBryde the secretaryship of agriculture, but he declined it, feeling that duty required him to remain at Blacksburg while matters here were still in a formative condition.
In May the corps left for the St. Louis exposition. It took two sections to carry the party of 554 people. The first section carried the six companies of infantry, and on the second were the band, battery, signal corps, drum and bugle corps, staff, postgraduates and former students. Although there was much rain during the stay at the exposition grounds, the general verdict was that it was the most successful trip ever taken by the corps. Of the large number of military organizations at the exposition from all parts of the country, the universal opinion was that our cadets ranked easily next to those from West Point. The corps returned on June 8, just before Commencement.
The following promotions were made in the faculty: adjunct professor to professor, Drs. Williams and Wilson and Professors Walker and H. L. Price; assistant professor to adjunct professor, Dr. Newman; assistant to instructors, J. H. Gibboney, H. L. Davidson, and L. O'Shaughnessy. Resignations: Messrs. H. L. Wilson, J. R. C. Brown, and P. H. Eley. Appointments: Dr. T. L. Watson, professor of geology; Mr. A. M. Soule, professor of animal husbandry; Mr. F. H. Abbott, assistant professor of English; Mr. J. R. Fain, assistant professor of agronomy; Mr. Hugh L. Worthington, instructor in modern languages; and Mr. P. O. Vanatter, instructor in agronomy.
Attendance this session, 727.
The college was now organized into four departments, each with its own faculty and dean: academic department, Professor T. P. Campbell, dean; scientific department, Professor R. J. Davidson, dean; engineering department, Colonel William M. Patton, dean; agricultural department, Professor A. M. Soule, dean. An executive council was formed, consisting of the president, Dean Smyth as dean of the faculty, Commandant J. S. A. Johnson, and the deans of the four departments. Professor Soule was appointed director of the experiment station, and Mr. W. B. Ellett ('94), assistant chemist at the station. On June 18, Professor R. C. Price resigned the chair of industrial chemistry and metallurgy.
During the summer, the sloping hill between Barracks 3 and 5 was cut down and faced with a heavy stone wall, approached by a flight of stone steps. Later, it was found necessary to guard the parapet with the present heavy iron railing, to prevent accidents. Dr. Smyth's residence, between the Alwood house and the ice-pond, was completed and occupied in September.
Through the influence of Professor Randolph, the railroad which the Virginia Anthracite and Railway Company had constructed from Christiansburg to Merrimac Mines, was completed through to Blacksburg, and the arrival of the first passenger train on the morning of September 15, 1904, was a great event to town and college. Primitive as the road was then, and absurd as was the packing-box of a depot, the visitor of today has no idea of the tremendous boon it was. There were no autos in those days—at least not around Blacksburg—and even if there had been any, the road from Christiansburg had not been graded to even what it now is, and it was not metalled save imperfectly for a short distance. It was often actually impassable, even on foot, during the winter and early spring months. Hack lines of archaic types connected Blacksburg with the outer world, and the fine macadam road of today was not existent even in dreams. As one looks back, it is a wonder how we managed. Now that the Norfolk and Western Railroad has built us the modern depot and given us a good service, one often smiles at the recollection of the old "Huckleberry," with its wheezy engine and its one composite coach and baggage car.
Session of 1904-05. The new auditorium being now under construction, the Commencement hall, over the mess, was turned over to the dining department to hold the large overflow of students, and the four-story brick annex completed in September came into immediate use. This contained, as now, the steward's office, the private mess, store-rooms, bakery, etc., and eleven rooms on the fourth floor were known as the "Y. M. C. A. annex," and were used as a dormitory. A large addition was made to the machine shops (the old Preston-Olin building, used as a dormitory in 1888). This addition made a quadrangle with a small court in the center, the old building being the northwest side of the square. Dormitory No.5 was completed in January.
On February 1, the schedules were changed, starting at 8:20 in the morning and running to 12:20, each class period being for fifty minutes, and the laboratory hours were from 1:30 to 3:45 in the afternoon, with military drill from 3:45 to 4:30.
A large stock barn and two cottages were completed for the department of agriculture.
On the night of February 22, 1905, the science hall was totally destroyed by fire. The day having been a holiday, the building was not in use that day, and when after midnight the fire was discovered it was beyond control. Very little of the equipment was saved. The loss to the institution was about $30,000, not including the severe loss individually to the professors in books, manuscripts, and private collections, which latter losses were of course never made good. It was due to the heroic efforts of the students, particularly of Cadet D. B. Hines, that the adjoining barrack building, and possibly the whole of that side of the quadrangle, were saved from burning. At the risk of his life Mr. Hines lay, head down and projecting over the steep sloping roof of Barrack No.4, held by other students, and applied wet blankets and water to the scorching wood-work of the barrack's windows and eaves. In recognition of his gallantry, Mr. Hines was presented with a gold medal, and all his fees were remitted. Although some demoralization from the fire might have been excusable, immediate steps were taken to accommodate the departments now without a home; vacant rooms in barrack No. 4 were called into use as class and laboratory rooms, and with some doubling up classes were resumed in a couple of days.
The stone building designed for an auditorium (now the library) being completed in time, Commencement exercises were held therein. The wing of the building, now used for the tailor shop upstairs and dwelling and library office rooms below, was fitted up with accommodations on the lower floor for the board of visitors on their official visits, and the large room upstairs was faculty meeting room. A new science hall was started on the foundations of the burnt building, to be similar to the first. The construction was in the hands of Mr. D. O. Matthews, who had built the first one and also the auditorium and other buildings put up while he was superintendent of grounds. The old farm barns, handed down, with additions, from the old days when "Solitude" was the Preston home, were torn down, and the foundations were laid for the present stone agricultural hall, intended originally for the departments of agriculture, horticulture, and veterinary medicine only; now overcrowded beyond its capacity with numerous other departments. At this same time, the early summer of 1906, the wooden experiment barn was started, on the experiment plats, where it now stands. A new brick residence was completed in June for Professor Soule. This is now occupied by Dr. Chrisman.
The courses of instruction had at this date expanded to nine, namely, agriculture, horticulture, applied chemistry, applied geology, preparatory medicine, general science, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, each of four years' duration, and leading to the B. S. degree.
The athletic association, organized by the corps in 1891, was, until 1901, under the control of student management. In 1901 a system of graduate management was inaugurated and proved very satisfactory. In 1903 a complete reorganization was effected, with Mr. J. H. Gibboney ('01) as graduate manager. The athletic council was composed of two members of the faculty committee, two student members (one a postgraduate and one a member of the senior class), the graduate manager, and the treasurer. Professor H. L. Price ('98) was elected permanent treasurer. Football games were arranged with the leading Northern colleges, such as West Point, Dartmouth, and Annapolis. It was under Mr. Gibboney's management that the team was developed which beat the West Point team 16 to 6 at West Point, and also the same season beat the University of Virginia 11 to 0 on Lambeth Field. This famous team was composed of the following men:
|Lewis (captain)||right end|
Hanvey, Cox, Harris, Hildebrand, Diffendall and Lawson were substitutes. Professor C. P. Miles coached the team, with Mr. Hunter Carpenter, who also played at right half.
On May 26, 1905, the college suffered a severe loss in the death of Colonel William M. Patton, professor of civil engineering and dean of the engineering department.
Attendance this session, 728.
The following changes occurred among the college officers: resignations: Secretary Jackson, Y. M. C. A.; Assistant Faulkner, in forge work; J. P. Harvey, musical director; and Miss Maud Needham, clerk to the executive council. Appointments: J. A. Armstrong, secretary, Y. M. C. A.; J. B. Teany, assistant, in forge work; H. D. McTier, musical director; Miss Louise Nielson, clerk to the executive council; and Miss Virginia Patton, clerk to the commandant. Colonel R. A. Marr was elected professor of civil engineering, and appointed dean of the engineering department.
A hazing episode at the opening of this term caused a profound stir through the prominence of those drawn into the matter, and resulted in an investigation by the Legislature. This was the famous Christian case. It came to a very sudden termination by the hasty withdrawal of the charges against the faculty by the prosecution, after the first meeting of the investigating committee.
On account of ill health Dr. McBryde was ordered to Jamaica by his physician, in the early winter, leaving the rector, Mr. J. Thompson Brown, as the official head of the institution, with Professors Campbell and Smyth jointly acting as president on the grounds.
Mr. Jarnigan was appointed instructor in animal husbandry. Messrs. H. L. Davidson and A. P. Spencer resigned as instructors in chemistry.
In March the Legislature appropriated funds for the completion of the agricultural hall and to pay the debt incurred in rebuilding the science hall.
The first meeting in the South of the student volunteer movement, held in Nashville, Tennessee, was attended by delegates from the V. P. I. For the second time in its history, Arbor Day was observed at V. P. I., Dr. Hudnall officiating. The first Field Day in three years was held on May 11. Professor Smyth was the official representative of V. P. I. at the ceremonies attending the installation of the president of the University of Alabama on the 75th anniversary of the founding of that institution.
Dr. McBryde returned from the tropics after Commencement, on June 18, and resumed his duties. Mr. Armstrong resigned as secretary of the Y. M. C. A., and Mr. A. S. Johnston was appointed. The following changes occurred in July: Professor Smyth resigned as dean of the faculty to devote his time to the duties of his department; Colonel J. S. A. Johnson resigned as commandant to confine himself to the engineering department; Captain G. H. Jamerson, of the 29th U. S. Infantry, was detailed by the War Department and appointed commandant; and Professor D. C. Nourse resigned as professor of agronomy. Mr. J. J. Davis was promoted from assistant to instructor in French.
In July it was decided to allow the corps to attend the approaching Jamestown exposition, and to have the institution represented by a creditable exhibit.
One thousand members of the State Farmers' Institute, held in Roanoke, visited the college on July 10, coming from all parts of the state.
In August, Instructors J. M. Johnson, J. H. Gibboney, G. L. Fentress and L. O'Shaughnessy resigned. The appointment of Captain Jamerson as commandant was confirmed; C. M. Mast was appointed instructor in physics; J. R. Lewis, assistant in foundry; and H. D. McTier, assistant in wood work and band director. Dr. Newman was granted leave of absence on the first of May and spent four months recuperating and studying in Europe, returning late in August.
During the session, Professor Abbott developed a very creditable glee club which added much to the social life. The session of the college was changed for the next year from a semester to a trimester system.
Attendance this session, 619.
The following appointments were made: H. Gudheim, instructor in graphics; T. G. Wood ('06), assistant in chemistry and third assistant commandant; W. G. Myers ('05), assistant in surveying and fourth assistant commandant. Miss Hannas, with Miss Garrison assisting, were appointed nurses in charge of the infirmary.
In October, 1906, Dr. McBryde submitted his resignation as president, and it was accepted to take effect at the close of the session.
A new eight-ton refrigerating plant and cold storage room was ordered built as part of the wooden creamery building. Arrangements were made for exhibits at the Jamestown exposition. A concrete cellar was completed east of the agricultural hall for fermentation experiments.
This session saw the birth of the "Agricultural Journal," published by the agricultural students, and which lived for two years.
Early in January the new agricultural hall was completed and arrangements made for removing the creamery from the old wooden building to the basement of this new hall, where the creamery is now situated. The greenhouses and heating-plant to the rear were also finished. The old veterinary building which stood by what is now Dr. Williams's residence, was removed to its present site.
In January, the board conferred upon Dr. McBryde the honorary degree of Doctor of Science and elected him president emeritus with all the privileges of a professor of the institute. Dr. McBryde was also placed on the Carnegie Foundation.
Professor R. J. Davidson was elected consulting chemist at the experiment station, and Harper Dean was appointed assistant state entomologist.
The old building, used in turn as a residence by Professors Scott, Fitts, and Campbell, and later as an agricultural hall, was ordered torn down. The wooden creamery was fitted up as a dormitory for the students working on the farm. Some time later, after its disuse, this building was a victim to incendiarism.
The corps decided to abolish the use of monogram caps.
Dr. T. L. Watson resigned as geologist to accept the chair of geology in the University of Virginia, and Dr. Holden, assistant professor of geology, continued in charge of that department. Professor A. M. Soule resigned in April as director of the station, and accepted a position in Georgia.
Colonel Marr erected in front of the academic buildings the concrete pillar upon which are placed the exact points of the compas and the elevation of the campus above sea-level.
On May 30, Dr. Paul B. Barringer, of the University of Virginia, was unanimously elected president by the board.
Finals closed on June 2, on account of the Jamestown exposition, which was attended by the corps.
Attendance this session, 577.
When Dr. McBryde took charge in June, 1891, the new administration found on hand to begin with: two brick academic buildings; one brick dormitory; the old Preston-Olin building, converted into a poorly-equipped shop building; two old wooden buildings (one, a small one, used as a shop, the other semi-ruinous); and five professors' houses—eleven buildings in all. There were practically no shops or laboratories; no water works, sewerage, public hall, infirmary, laundry, or adequate lighting system. The small campus of about ten acres in front of the buildings was used as a hay meadow and there were scarcely any walks or driveways.
Not a dollar of income was allowed by the State, not even for insurance or repairs, the scanty income being wholly derived from the Federal grant. During Dr. McBryde's sixteen years of administration special appropriations were secured from the State amounting to $332,750, in addition to the annual sums allowed for insurance, repairs and maintenance.
To show for this sum, eight separate purchases of land, between sixty and seventy acres in all, were made, 27 industrial plants and other similar improvements were established, 6 old buildings were renovated, 67 new buildings (25 brick, 4 stone, 5 iron, 33 wooden) were erected, 26 laboratories, 25 lecture-rooms, 18 offices, 9 halls, etc., fitted up and equipped—186 improvements in all—the campus was extended to about 75 acres, 2,000 ornamental trees were set out, and several miles of cinder walks, avenues and drives were made. Many small buildings and improvements are not herein included. In addition, a handsome stone Y. M. C. A. building was erected and furnished, largely through the efforts of the faculty and students. The attendance for the first session, 1891-92, was only 135; this gradually increased, reaching the maximum in 1904-05 of 728, more than the equipment of the college could handle successfully. The first graduating class, of 1892, numbered four men; in the closing years of Dr. McBryde's administration the graduating class averaged upwards of 80, and in the last year the teachers numbered 56 and other officers 21. The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College had become the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.