From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Category: Early University history (page 1 of 12)

To old Columbus town: Trustees choose campus location

It was not always a given that Ohio State would be in Columbus. It’s thanks to the efforts of a few members of OSU’s first Board of Trustees that the campus sits along the banks of the Olentangy River.

At the first meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 11, 1870, the members of the Board presented several different qualities that would be present in the ideal campus location. One member said

University Hall sketch, 1873

that because the school should be academically-oriented, it should be located in a more rural area rather than a city. Another stipulated that, as OSU started off as an agriculture school, it should be built upon a farm of at least 320 acres. Yet another offered that he didn’t think the location should be the most important consideration, but that their choice should be controlled by the amount of the proposed donation. Eventually, they concluded that they would accept bids for the location of the university through the first of September, 1870, and after that, they would begin touring locations.

In early September, 1870, the Board had four main candidates for the location of the university: Clarke county, Champaign county, Franklin county, and Montgomery county. Over the first few weeks of the month, they traveled to each location and toured the proposed properties to determine which was the most suitable for the school. Upon their return, a representative from each of the four counties presented their respective case to the board.

Campus map, 1876

After this presentation, on September 21, 1870, the Board balloted on the proposed locations. Champaign county was dropped first, followed by Montgomery, and finally Clarke, leaving, of course, Franklin county as the winner. The Board followed this vote by resolving that they would stand by this decision if they could find a suitable farm and be guaranteed a $300,000 donation by Franklin county.

In October of the same year, several potential farms were presented to the Board, and after another round of balloting, they decided on the Neil farm, located in Franklin county near the Olentangy River. The campus and the city would continue to grow, eventually overlapping borders thus making the Ohio State and Columbus synonymous.

Written by Hannah Nelson.

Playing golf on OSU campus was once par for the course

Lantern, June 30, 1920

Lantern, June 30, 1920

Today, Ohio State’s popular and renowned golf course sits about two miles from the Oval, but did you know there used to be a golf course a stone’s throw from the center of campus?  Thanks to a detailed letter written by Howard E. Wentz in 1973, the Archives has a clue to the course’s existence.

In the summer of 1919, a series of articles appeared in The Lantern that suggested a peaked interest in golf among faculty and students alike. According to the student newspaper, spring and summer classes were offered to students that allowed them to learn about the technical game of golf, with subjects such as “the fundamentals, principles, and strokes.”  At this point, Ohio State had already offered classes in different sports, such as baseball, tennis, swimming, and boxing—all of these subject areas already had designated practice fields. Until the summer of 1919, Ohio Field was the only practice area where golf students could swing.  But that July, a five-hole course was proposed, a direct result of the interest displayed by the Ohio State student and faculty body.

A committee of three professors, Alonzo H. Tuttle, John W. Wilce, and Joseph S. Myers joined together to form the first Ohio State University Golf Club in 1919. The push for a new course became even stronger, as faculty and students could join the group for just two dollars.  If a course were built, faculty could play Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for two hours and 45 minutes, or 4:45 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.; students were permitted to play every Tuesday and Thursday.  Only serious players were permitted, as they had a strict “no practice” policy during these days.

University Golf Course as sketched by Howard Wentz in 1973

The University Golf Course as sketched
by Howard Wentz in 1973

The new University Golf Course opened on Saturday, June 26, 1920.  Described in the Lantern as “in excellent condition” and “a wonderful opportunity for members of the faculty and students to participate in wholesome recreation,” the finished product had nine holes in total (as opposed to its initially proposed five holes) and a distance of 1,911 yards.  Unfortunately, there is no information that describes the physical construction of the course, although the task was completed and overseen by Tony Aquila, the caretaker of Ohio Field.

In his series of letters in 1973, Howard E. Wentz describes his time as a young caddy at the University Golf Course.  Wentz details the different types of people who played at the course during his summer:

“I recall many former notable O.S.U. professors and their wives whom I caddied for.  Among them were Leonard Goss, Oscar Brumley, Howard Snook, George Eckleberry, Lou Morrill, Joe Taylor, Billy Graves and others.”

Chic Harley, 1919

Chic Harley, 1919

Wentz also recalls being star-struck when OSU football star Chic Harley came to play.  He recalled Harley having a golfing stance that was completely “unorthodox” but could easily “beat any of us kids at our own game.”  In the same paragraph, Wentz discusses how Dudley Fisher, a famous cartoon artist for The Columbus Dispatch, frequented the course.

With no photographs of the course, the University Archives only has one map that exists solely from Wentz’s memory.  There is, however, one cross-matched piece of evidence of the course: Both The Lantern and Wentz agree on the location of hole one, which was directly behind Page Hall.

There is no solid evidence to suggest when the golf course closed permanently, but a letter to then-OSU President William Oxley Thompson, published in The Lantern on March 1, 1921, states the course was still standing.  However, there’s no information on the course after that letter.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Archives

Written and assembled by Olivia Wood

Happy Thanksgiving!  To celebrate the most delicious time of the year, we’ve decided to post some pictures commemorating different types of feasts here at Ohio State ranging from the late 19th century up until the 21st century.  Enjoy!


A Food and Nutrition class in Hayes Hall preparing a meal, circa 1900.


A Food and Nutrition course holding a meal, 1950.


An Ohio State home economics class preparing a meal, 1895.


Two students sharing dessert, circa 1930.


A group of students sharing a snack of celery, crackers, and cigarettes…yum? Circa 1940.


Students and chefs with a dessert spread of cake and cookies, 1942.


Student-employee appreciation event hosted in the Oval with a feast of pizza and cake, 2000.


The International Party hosted by the Mother’s Club, 1954.


Two students toasting to each other, circa 1930.


An ox roast held at Ohio State, circa May 1916. An ox roast really isn’t actually roasted ox–it’s roast beef!

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