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September 14, 2012

Hudson to Cleveland: the Decision to Move

We continue our description of Western Reserve College’s move from Hudson to Cleveland 130 years ago. Faculty member, Edward W. Morley, chronicled the event in letters to his parents. Extracts from those letters describe the discussions leading to the decision to move and some of the reactions to that decision.

The picture is of Carroll Cutler, about whom Morley writes.

March 28, 1880
“Nothing further has been said about the removal of the college, except that Mr. Cutler has been to Cleveland to talk with some of our trustees about the probable organization of the Case School.”

May 9, 1880
“Last Wednesday was the time for Mr. Cutler’s report on the question how much it would take to move the college to Cleveland, and put it on a good footing there. He had a paper which gave satisfaction to those who are ready to see it moved; and it was put in the hands of the man, as yet unknown to us, who is asking how much will be required to do so. On Monday, tomorrow, Mr. Cutler is to read the same paper to the trustees of the Case School, the reading being at the request of those trustees, and intended to give them some notion of what a college is; some suppose it is a fine building.”

June 20, 1880
“The Common Council of Cleveland passed a resolution a few days since to appoint a committee to confer with the trustees of this college and to see how much land we should want for the college in case we move to Cleveland. Last Friday the committee met the trustees of this college and of the new Case School of Applied Science. Mr. Cutler attended. Nothing definite was done or proposed, the meeting being chiefly useful in getting the matter before the public. One thing which I think it accomplished is this: there was on the part of some of those who favor the removal to Cleveland, the idea that the college should be put about five miles from the centre of Cleveland. Against this notion Mr. Cutler had labored; the feeling developed at this meeting will settle the question in favor of a central location; which is what we judge the best.”

June 27, 1880
“A Cleveland gentleman is ready to give the college four hundred thousand dollars to increase the endowment, and one hundred thousand dollars for a building as soon as a building lot shall be secured at Cleveland. It is not to be made known here till after Commencement.”

September 14, 1880
“The meeting to move the college adjourned, as was the plan, on account of the absence of two trustees, who were at a good distance. They will meet next week Tuesday, and there is now no doubt that there will [be] a majority of three fourths for removal. It is likely that there will be but two against removal, and perhaps only one. There is a good deal of bitterness about it in town, but it does not seem to make much difference to us. Mr. Cutler has to take it; this is partly because the paper which he read to the trustees concerning the removal spoke a little hastily of Hudson, and gives offence. He meant to revise it before publication but gave it to the reporter without revision. The effect is that some who never lacked friendship for Mr. Cutler think the remarks he makes about Hudson are not just. But we shall go to Cleveland all the same.”

September 20, 1880
“The trustees have met today, and have voted fourteen to two and one absent, to remove the college to Cleveland. Amasa Stone give four hundred thousand dollars to add to our endowment, and one hundred thousand for building. We have to secure a site in Cleveland in six months or less. A preparatory school is to be kept up here at least five years. Mr. Cutler has not got back yet, so that I do not know all the details. But after all the somewhat acerb feelings of people in Hudson, it is good to win by so good a majority. And all the men were decided in their opinion; every man had his mind made up, except one of the men who voted not; he was not decided against it. He would have voted the other way, probably, if it had been necessary to carry the measure. So we have to plan a building, and get it built.”

Mr. Cutler was President of Western Reserve College from 1871 to 1886. Cutler’s History of Western Reserve College During Its First Half Century, unfortunately ends in 1876, so we do not have his account of these events. It is, nevertheless, an illuminating account of the college’s earliest years. Other records in the Archives document Trustee discussions and the decision to move the college.

Posted by jmt3 at September 14, 2012 05:37 PM

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