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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Vanderbilt, Paul
"Inter silvas academi",   pp. 18-19


Page 19


shown in our illustration was occupied in 1853 and
three faculty members were added in 1854. Faculty
members resigned "with claims for services which
they were disposed to press by legal measures." The
College, broke and $3,000 in debt, closed in 1861.
Savage stayed on to raise more driblets of money.
In 1863 the College reopened, admitting both men
and women students, and with a faculty of two men
($800) and one woman ($400), but closed again in
1865. The trustees then developed a curious arrange-
ment: they would provide free use of the building and
furniture to an individual who would contract to oper-
ate the college on his own financial responsibility,
raising and disbursing his own funds. The trustees
agreed to make an application for support to the
Presbyterian Board of Education, but nothing came
of this. Walter L. Rankin (not a reverend, but a
Princeton M.A.) and fifteen students somehow made
a go of it.
  Closing and reopening, changing administrations,
operating only a preparatory school (called the aca-
demic department) and a first year of college, the
institution stumbled along and did not become a full
college until 1904. When the building in our illustra-
tion burned in 1885, a total loss, they realized less
than $3,000 from insurance. Does not this simple,
solid structure (if buildings indeed have expressive
character) look like that kind of resolute survival,
its very shape and detailing spelling out the clear
arguments of cause and effect? Interestingly enough,
in 1910, the Alumni Association published a full list
of members, showing concisely what had happened
to each: Washington Dolph, farmer; Edgar W. Camp,
solicitor, AT & Santa Fe Ry.; Albert W. Park, mining
machinery expert in Colorado; Edith T. Weed, priv.
sec.contr.man., Am. Bridge Co., N.Y.; Maxwell
Charles (better known as Max Carl) Otto, instructor
in philosophy, University of Wisconsin, etc.
                           0~
             ~~~  9~~
   Their short-lived Philomathaean Magazine (1856-
1857) is to my taste a typographic gem-delicate and
dignified. And I. A. Lapham's copy, which the State
Historical Society has, is beautifully bound. It is
primarily philosophical, in the essay rather than the
systematic sense, filled with short budding efforts on
Educational Empiricism, Innate Ideas, Genius, Stric-
tures on Existing Things, Death, Beauty, Truth, A
Vision of the Future, and the like. I associate this
effort with this kind of a building-not that the lines
were necessarily written therein, but that the classic
plain walls and regular windows were as blank white
pages to be made to serve transmission and the struc-
tures of discipline to guide and control. Romantic ivy
would dissipate it all.
Paul Vanderbilt is Curator Emeritus of the Iconographic
Collections of The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
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