Taking a trip back in time on Shippensburg campus


There is something tranquil about Shippensburg’s campus that I love.

The other day as I was walking to class, I heard bells tolling from Old Main, and could not help but notice how nice our campus actually is.

While some parts of campus are full of antiquity, others are modern and showcase Shippensburg in a different time.

After doing an in-depth community study for one of my classes, I could not help but start to appreciate what Shippensburg University has to offer.

We all learn about the Revolutionary War and Civil War.

We learn about past presidents, but one thing that I think students here on campus should consider, is the history of this university that we all attend.

While some may think learning about Shippensburg may seem mundane, I think others will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the story behind our school is interesting.

In 1857 the Pennsylvania Assembly divided the state into 12 districts.

Members of the assembly then declared that each district needed to have a normal school to educate future teachers.

It was not until 10 years later when Shippensburg members of the community met together to discuss raising funds to build the town a teaching school.

After raising enough money in cash and stock from investors, a plot of land on which Old Main stands was purchased for $4,000 and the start of the university began.

Finally, on April 15, 1873, The Cumberland Valley State Normal School opened with only 382 students.

Ready for a laugh now?

When the normal school was first opened, the cost of tuition was a whopping $4 per week.

That is it, I mean think of what students back then would think of our tuition now.

Students were forced to attend for 42 weeks, and could then graduate.

They had to wake up at 5:30 a.m., and had to be in bed by no later than 10 p.m.

Study hours began in the early evening, and students had to keep their doors open so instructors could walk by and make sure they were studying.

I remember complaining about quiet hours in the dorms, I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with strict rules like these.

Originally, Old Main was the only building on campus, and it served as dormitories for men and women, classrooms, and had a cafeteria.

As the university began to grow, so did the campus.

The next buildings to be constructed were Stewart Hall, which was used as a gymnasium, and Horton Hall which was used as a women’s dormitory.

Has anyone ever wondered why there is a bridge connecting Horton Hall to Old Main?

Well, administrators for the school did not want girl’s hair to get wet on rainy days, and so the bridge was constructed to avoid this hassle. Hey, President Ruud, where is my bridge?

Times have certainly changed since the university began, and I am sure they will continue to.

I mean, look at the new buildings that have been built so quickly on campus over the past year. The university has come a long way and there is potential to grow.

One day, after we all graduate, we might come back to a completely different Shippensburg.
We should all appreciate the school for how it is right now.
This is our Shippensburg.

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