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September 21, 2013

First Hartwick College event held 85 years ago at theater


“Friends of the institution have contributed quite generously, not only to the matter of books, but engravings and other articles of adornment for the walls have been donated.”

Norlie probably had a relieved feeling on the ride back to Oneonta from Albany on Monday, Sept. 24, as he’d spent the day in conferences with the state Education Department, getting final approval on the courses of study at Hartwick. A general invitation was issued to Oneonta residents to attend the Wednesday chapel exercise at The Palace.

“Exceedingly gratifying was the attendance of representative business men and residents of the city and to them equally pleasing was the one appearing body of young men and women who proceeded from the temporary college and took seats in the front of the auditorium,” it was reported. “They were roundly cheered as they marched down the center aisle and were seated. Preceding them and taking seats on the platform were President (Charles R.) Myers and the other members of the faculty, and a creditable delegation of the board of trustees. The large auditorium was well filled when Dr. Myers welcomed all and referred briefly to the significance of the hour.”

Among the many hymns, prayers and addresses by the speakers, a telegram that pleased many was read from the nearby town of Hartwick: “The faculty and students of Hartwick academy congratulate Hartwick college on its opening day. May Divine Providence continue to direct the newest development of the oldest Lutheran school in America.” 

This, of course, was from the Hartwick Seminary, which today has a memorial site just a few miles south of Cooperstown on state Route 28. The new college had explored the idea of building on the grounds nearby, but was lured by leading Oneonta citizens to build it in this city instead.

Norlie was the closing speaker that morning and announced that classes were to begin at 1:30 p.m.

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