Activism and protest is language on campus.
It’s a form of expression and of passion.
It’s OUr voice.
And this is how we use it.
Activism and protest is language on campus.
It’s a form of expression and of passion.
It’s OUr voice.
And this is how we use it.
When many think of the Athens Lunatic Asylum cemeteries, their minds race toward death. When I think of those same places, I am transported back to the sticky summer day that I laid my sunhat down in the grass, a few feet from an unmarked grave, and discovered my hideaway.
I had decided to spend the afternoon reading some fairytales and lounging on Radar Hill. After a pang of curiosity hit me and I made a sharp right through a clearing in the woods, I found my feet taking me over a small wooden bridge toward a stagnant pond surrounded by trees. It was gorgeous, to say the least. I have always found solace in seclusion and there was not a soul in eyesight or earshot. After the damp, slightly fishy smell of the water became too overwhelming, I made my way up a small hill to what I discovered was the back end of an asylum cemetery.
I saw that there were stretches of graves on the opposite side of another wooden bridge, but as I approached I noticed some headstones that tapered off down the hill I was wandering on. I immediately panicked, thinking I had traipsed all over someone’s final resting place. After checking things out, I realized that I hadn’t moronically stomped on someone.
The next hour or so, I spent my time examining the moss-covered graves and contemplating the people that lie beneath the earth. The only identifiers these departed people had were numbers. Given the anonymity of the numbers and the hidden nature of the gravesite, I gathered that these people rarely got visitors. Things like that always touch me
in a way that I struggle to explain, so I laid my blanket down and spent my afternoon with the lonely and (presumably) forgotten.
If I ever need time to think, be alone, meditate or gather myself, I visit my secret place among the dead. I am not always keen to share my special places with anyone, let alone the entire Internet, but I hope someone can find the same comfort and peace in this magical little spot.
Black and white figures dance around the ceiling, telling me to come join them. They are almost taunting me, with their distorted limbs and smiling faces. Small sentence-like structures fence in the different humans, telling tales of writers past, greek mythology and music from different times. The wall that they live on stands so tall that I have to crane my neck to see the top, where the black paint ends and the plain ceiling starts. The air is crisp and runs through the opening to the psychedelic mural, whispering secrets to me from the artist, Ӕthelred Eldridge.
Athens is full of mysteries and places unseen by a lot of the student population. My favorite mystery resides on the side of the old Seigfred art building in a cove hidden from plain view. In 1966, the avant-garde artist and professor Ӕthelred Eldridge was commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the building in his famous style. His style is reminiscent of Mayan hieroglyphs mixed with Picasso-like figures, but he has his own twist that makes it uniquely his. Since then, some form of his work has been present on the side of the building, from almost all words to circular pieces to the now boxy figures that lie against the wall.
When I first saw the mural, I had no idea what I was looking it. To me, it looked like a jumble of lines and nonsense words with no actual meaning. But after being assigned to write a story about the rededication of the mural for The Post, I found a new, deeper meaning for the hidden, sacred portrait of the thoughts of Ӕthelred Eldridge. Eldridge, who is a deeply complex, innovative and ethereal thinker, shares his thoughts on the morality and experiences of the world on the wall in a beautifully simple, yet complex way. If you were to know nothing about the man, the mural would be just another piece of art to you. But after studying him and his life, I found the meaning of the mural, which makes it ever more beautiful.
So if you find yourself meandering around campus one day, stop, sit and look at the mural of the tortured genius Ӕthelred Eldridge on the back wall of Seigfred Hall. You may just find your new favorite spot in Athens.
As an historic “college town,” Athens, Ohio, and the university in its midst have had to find ways to collaborate during the past 211 years to ensure both entities thrive. But sometimes, conflict happens. An errant circus. A near riot. An attempted rent increase. These are a few of the disputes that have put town and gown at odds over the years.
Ohio University history started when the Ohio General Assembly passed an act establishing the college on Feb. 18, 1804. The state granted the land because the city had exceeded 5,000 population – a requirement before any town could establish a university. The city of Athens became a town in 1801.
“Parents and guardians may rest assured that the morals, as well as the education of youth at this academy, will be particularly and strictly attended to by the principle and trustees,” according to an article in the Ohio Gazette and Virginia Herald on Aug. 11, 1808.
This map shows Ohio University’s preliminary plat in 1800. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection by Levi Whipple.
In 1806, Jacob Lindley, an active trustee, drew a plan for a two-story brick academy building 24 by 30 feet, constructed on the east side of College Green. By 1808, the brick building was completed. This modest building would establish Ohio University as a college, but more work had to be done to ensure the university would be operational.
This sketch shows what the first Academy Building might have looked like. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection.
Ohio University’s financial struggles in the early 1800s
In the beginning, the college had one main channel of financial support: rent. OU’s lands were granted by the state of Ohio. In 1804, 150 families lived on university-owned land.
This map shows how Ohio University looked in 1800 to 1813. The image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection by William E. Peters.
By 1812, the number of students began to increase (from three to 14). A new building was needed. By 1812, Cutler Hall was built for $17, 806.
This photo is a drawing of Cutler Hall. In the center of the building is the bell tower, which was added in 1820. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection.
As the student body and college buildings expanded over the years, so did the amount of debt. By the late 1820s, students paid $5 per semester, which brought in around $1,000 yearly. Annual rents from lands were around $2,700, more than double the revenue from tuition. Operational costs were estimated at $3,850 yearly, around $150 more than what OU was taking in. OU was having some financial issues. Regardless, additions continued to be made …
Town and Gown relations today: rowdy weekends
From city roads to enforcing public safety during large event weekends, the Athens City Council and Ohio University often have to work side-by-side.
Athens Councilwoman Christine Fahl said that in general being a council member in Athens is not that different than being a council person in any other city.
“As a council person you are always balancing your decisions, actions and policies between various players and issues,” she wrote in an email.
Still, demographics do play a role. Fahl explained that the city incurs a lot of extra expenses because of the high student population.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city of Athens has a population of around 23,000. Ohio University has a student body of around 22,000.
“Other towns of similar size are not having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to public safety for overtime due to huge parties for weeks in the spring,” she said.
The parties include bashes such as Palmer Fest. The annual block party is hosted every May and has around 8,000 attendees. Incidents such as the near-riot in 2009, where furniture was set on fire, tasked the Athens City police with working overtime. During the 2015 fest, there were 57 arrests, according to The Post.
This photo shows the police force at Palmer Fest. The photo appeared in an article on The Cleveland Scene in 2012 by Kyle Swenson.
Mike Canterbury, Athens city councilman, said the university and the town often have to come together to work on projects.
Sometimes this cooperation can be difficult when the city and council don’t agree on a project …
Fight over the Green in the mid-1800s
The combination of selling off lands to pay for rising costs and expansion efforts escalated conflict between the town and the college.
On Sept. 16, 1827, OU’s third president, Robert Wilson, recommended to the board of trustees that a fence be built to safeguard what is now called College Green. Wilson believed the dirt from the town was the root of sickness and epidemics that had been affecting the small student body. The fence would keep out the “filth” from the cattle, sheep, and livestock, Wilson argued.
However, there was one major problem: Wilson asked for the removal of College Street to implement this plan. No action was taken. But Wilson was determined to have his fence. On April 15, 1835 — eight years later, Wilson and Rev. Amos Miller attempted to seek a deed from Athens town council relinquishing the Green for the enclosure.
The townspeople appear to have ignored this request.
On June 30, 1835, the circus was in town. Despite Wilson’s warning to keep away from the college campus, a tent was erected in the middle of College Green. This incident led to a lawsuit. Wilson won his case, but he also fueled the already brewing tension between the college and the residents again over the Green, a suit which ended up at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Eventually, a compromise allowed the college to rebuild a fence to cover as much of the area as deemed “necessary” to preserve the sanctity of the college. The fence was built in 1838, 11 years after it was first proposed.
This photo is a drawing of Cutler Hall in 1848. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection.
The civil war monument that sits on College Green is a tribute to two battles: the actual Civil War and the one between town and gown. The monument was built by the city, and shows the 94 foot wide strip that used to be considered town commons.
This photo is of the civil war monument. The photo was taken from waymarketing.com.
Town and gown relations today: Bobcat Lane’s 7-year closure
Bobcat Lane is a road off Richland Avenue running to Baker University Center. The university built the road to improve access to campus for visitors and emergency response vehicles as well as to become a new drop off/pickup site for public transit vehicles, according to Ohio University’s Compass.
This is Bobcat Lane. The photo is from an article in The Athens Messenger.
The road was constructed in 2008, but it didn’t open until 2015. Athens city officials expressed safety concerns, according to The Athens Messenger. Council members still have those concerns.
Councilman Canterbury said he was concerned that pedestrians wouldn’t look before crossing the road, and the university should help increase public awareness. Councilwoman Michele Papai also was concerned with pedestrians crossing the road but said the situation was difficult because the college wanted it and a written memorandum of understanding between Mayor Paul Wiehl and University President Roderick McDavis that had already been signed years ago.
Attempted rent increase sparks tensions in the 1840s
In 1843, the college tried to resolve its bad financial situation by reappraising its lands. This reappraisal would mean a rent increase for residents living on college land.
This map shows what Ohio University looked like in 1844 to 1910. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection by William E. Peters.
The issue was brought before the Ohio Supreme Court in 1842. Leaseholders argued that their rental agreements were not subject to re-evaluation.
Tensions reportedly rose to the point where Athens townspeople stoned McGuffey in the streets, but there is no proof that this in fact occurred.
In 1843, the court ruled that OU could not reappraise its lands. Furthermore, a limit was imposed on how much rent OU could collect annually. Today, that limit is $4,500 per year.=
Eventually, the college was able to solve its financial problems and the college became a symbol of Athens. During the Hocking Valley Flood in 1873, the townspeople and the university helped rebuild the lands destroyed by the natural disaster.
This photo shows the 1873 flood. The Ridges can be seen in the background. This image was taken from genologytrails.com.
Athens in the 1900s
During World War II, the city placed more than 2,000 student veterans in homes. After the war, the student population increased to the extent that the college could not provide housing for the influx.
East Green’s Veteran Housing. This image was taken from Ohio University’s Mahn Center in the Ohio University Archives Collection.
But the main difference between relations in the 1900s is the beginning of active involvement between the city residents and the university in resolving conflicts.
Harry Crewson was OU’s 17th president and prior he was the president of the Athens City Council, elected six times. Crewson was known for resolving conflict between the city and the college.
In September 1971, OU employees were on strike and near riotous. The mayor of Athens was away at a convention for sister cities in Athens, Greece. Crewson as the acting mayor, had to step in to resolve the conflict.
This recording was used with permission from the Mahn Center Archives oral history tapes by Archivist, Bill Kimok in 1997. The tapes and oral history collection have never been published. Kimok’s article can be found on Ohio University’s Ohio Today. Harry Crewson passed away in 2003.
Town and gown relations today: memorandums of understanding
“If it weren’t for the university, you wouldn’t have the city,” Councilman Canterbury said.
He talked about the $250,000 pledge that OU gave towards a new fire truck. OU relies on the city’s fire service. The new fire truck will help improve the safety of all residents in Athens.
“Their needs are our needs too,” Canterbury said.
This image is a copy of the memorandum of understanding signed by Mayor Paul Wiehl and OU President Roderick McDavis. It details the agreement that the college and city work together on accessibility planning for people with disabilities. Taken from Ohio University’s site.
Councilwoman Papai said that in the past 10 years she has seen a lot of improvement in communication between the city and college.
Papai referred to the public meeting in which OU talked about its 2016 Master Plan for expanding the campus.
“In past years it was done in a vacuum,” she explained. The last Master Plan was released in 2006.
Papai also discussed memorandums of understanding between Mayor Wiehl and OU President McDavis. Bobcat Lane and the new fire truck pledge resulted from having memorandums of understanding. Other examples include helping enforce safety procedures for big event weekends like the annual Halloween block party.
“It legitimizes the position by having this agreement,” she said.
All the councilmembers agreed that having the university around provides another source of ideas, and when there is transparency between the two governing bodies (the council and university), the city population as a whole sees the benefit.
To trace Ohio University and Athens history, the author used material from Ohio University Mahn Center archives’ building files in addition to two well-known historical books on Ohio University: Betty Hollow’s “Ohio University, 1804-2004: the spirit of a singular place” and Thomas Nathanael Hoover’s “The history of Ohio University.”
A Saturday night in the beloved city of Athens is one of a kind. Whether it be spent with friends at your favorite bar, at the historic Athena, or with a Whitzer in hand, nightlife in Athens draws people together.
But for many, it is The Union Bar and Grille that sets nightlife in Athens apart from the rest – the wooden interior and the resulting aroma, the beloved history of the building itself, the eclectic collection of townies and hipsters resembling townies, and the sense of closeness and acceptance exchanged between bar regulars. It is these things and many, many more that have shaped The Union into what has grown to be so cherished in the hearts of the Athens community.
On November 16th, 2014, news broke of the devastating fire that destroyed several buildings along Union Street at 4 a.m. the day, including the beloved Union Bar and Grill. The Union reached out to the Athens community regarding the news via Facebook.
To the Union extended family, I’m sad to report that early this morning a fire started on our block of Union Street. Though firefighters made heroic efforts to contain the blaze, it quickly spread down the street to us. I currently don’t know the full extent of the damage but it is very extensive. Thankfully no one was injured, but The Union as we knew it is no more. I truly appreciate all the offers of help and warm sentiments. The Union was a second home to so many of us (including myself), it makes my heart ache. As I know more I will try to keep this page updated. Hopefully the place will have a good phoenix story coming soon.
In March of 2015, Athens City council members made the decision to declare the buildings destroyed in the fire a “historic district”.
The charm of the Union Bar and Grille can be attributed to its cherished and diverse history. The building itself has been around since 1900, making it one of the oldest buildings destroyed in the fire. According to Athens News, the building was purchased in 1945 by the father of The Union’s previous, the Couladis brothers. Before Mr. Couladis purchased the building, it was home to a variety of businesses, includingThe Elk Hotel and a bar/restaurant called The Hot Dog.
In 1924, according to Athens Messenger, it was converted into a residence hall for Ohio University students. Eric Gunn, current owner of The Union Bar and Grill told Athens Messenger, “Around the 1960s, upstairs became what it is now. Downstairs has pretty much stayed the same up until the remodel in 2008.”
To current residents of Athens, The Union Bar and Grille was known for its music scene. Over the years, The Union has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including The White Stripes and The Black Keys, according to The Athens News. But what sets The Union apart is its loyalty to local musicians. Blond, a “reverb rock” band based in Athens, was the last band to play at The Union before the November 16th fire, according to The Union’s Facebook page.
As far as the rebuilding of the Union, progress has been slow. Several local news affiliates believed the rebuilding process to have been completed by the end of summer 2015, but a portion of W. Union remains blocked off.
What are you favorite memories of The Union Bar and Grill? Let us know!
Many remarkable people have passed through the small town of Athens. Perhaps one of the greatest is artist and architect Maya Lin. Lin, whose parents were professors at Ohio University, was born and raised in Athens. Lin became a household name when she won the contest to design the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. when she was still an undergraduate student at Yale.
She has gone on to create many stunning pieces of art and other beautiful memorials. But Lin didn’t forget her Athens roots. In 2004, the university’s bicentennial year, Lin designed an earthwork installation called “Input” for Bicentennial Park, which is located directly in front of Walter Hall on West Green. The installation consists of 21 rectangles, some are raised and some sink into the ground. The shapes resemble early computer punch cards that were used in programming courses. While she was in high school, Lin took a basic computer programming course at OU, which inspired her design.
Lin said, “Hopefully, it will touch anyone who has spent much time in Ohio University or Athens. I wanted to draw a map of memories.”
Students walking by may notice the inscriptions on many of the rectangles in the piece. Lin worked with her poet brother, Tan Lin, to create a “landscape of words” in order to show “their shared memories of Athens and Ohio University.” The words cause many to pause and reflect on their own experiences of their time at OU. There are also plaques in the grass along the sidewalk that leads to Walter Hall that display the name of previous university presidents, and current president Roderick McDavis, as well as other remarkable previous OU faculty members.
Nowadays, Bicentennial Park is often used to host tailgates before home football games. Students sit among the depressed parts of the “Input” installation eating, drinking and talking with friends. Even more than a decade after its dedication, the outdoor art space still brings students, faculty and the people of Athens together.
Featured image and the image in the text came from Ohio University’s website.
Did you know that the Ohio University mascot, Bobcat, had a wife called Bobkitten? Documents from Ohio University’s archives reveal that, the issue surrounding Bobcat and Bobkitten is one of “the most highly guarded secrets.”
A Howard Hall senior, Fran Femia was the Bobkitten. Unfortunately, their ‘marriage’ was put asunder after two years by university officials, who said that character was not approved. Femia was disappointed and tried to give reasons why she should be allowed to continue alongside Mr. Bobcat because she had been in existence for at least 24 months. Moreover, Dad’s Weekend was approaching, and it was one of occasions she ceased to entertain parents and guests. But that chance was taken away by the powers that be.
Their marriage, appeared to be a fruitful one as she even appeared with her husband, Mr. Bobcat on a New York show called “The World of Cats.” But Bobkitten was not needed in the world of cats by Ohio University authorities. Her end was near. The destruction of the kitten character succeeded when the all female Howard Hall was demolished in 1972. The Chi Omega sisters took on the dress back then but little is known of it now.
Photo Credit: Ohio University Archives
Most students at Ohio University are required to enroll in a history course in order to fulfill a general requirement. Luckily for Bobcats, Ohio University has made several interesting history courses available, ranging from The Rise of Modern Asia to The History of Rock and Roll.
Meghan Cupach, a sophomore studying Business and Marketing, has taken two history classes during her time spent at Ohio University. She was enrolled in Introduction to World History Before 1750 in the fall of 2015. The course was taught by Professor Monika Flaschka who, according to RateMyProfessors.com “is a great professor. Her lectures are pretty clear cut and never seem long. She sets out clear standards for you and even gives you a study guide that literally tells you everything on the exams.”
In regards to the course itself, Meghan referred to the material as “boring”, but added that Flaschka made the course enjoyable, “She put things in ways that would help me understand it easier. She knew that history wasn’t a very exciting subject so she tried to make it as exciting as she possibly could.”
Meghan was also enrolled in Introduction to World History Since 1750 in the spring of 2015 with Ziad Abu-Rish, an assistant professor of history. “I like Ziad because you can tell he really cares about the subject and how well we do in the course,” Meghan says, “He’s always making himself available for help with his office hours.”
Meghan admits that Professor Abu-Rish has been her favorite instructor since she started at Ohio University, “It’s nice having a professor who actually cares how well his students do rather than someone who just curves the exams so most of us pass.”
Nathanial Fosnaugh, a junior studying Finance, was enrolled in The Rise of Modern Asia in the fall of 2015 with Professor Joshua Hill. “The course in general was interesting and engaging. Hill took it to another level with his teaching,” Nathanial says. Professor Joshua Hill, who received a PhD in history from Harvard University, is an assistant professor within the history department. “Hill was very passionate and you could tell he cared a lot about the subject,” he says, “I would highly recommend taking a course with Professor Hill, even if it’s not The Rise of Modern Asia. He’s a great guy.”
It’s not uncommon for courses to fall short of expectations, however. Nate Beverly, a junior studying psychology pre-med, fell victim to such a course when he enrolled in The History of The Vietnam War. “I really liked my professor. He was extremely well-educated on the topic and had the facts down pat.” However, Nate admits that as educated and experienced as his professor was, he was not as engaging as Nate hoped he’d be. “He was incredibly boring to listen to though, just because most of his lectures involved him spouting facts constantly.” When asked if he’d recommend the class to a friend, Nate says, “The class itself had interesting info, but I honestly did not like it.”
Apart from the several World History courses offered at Ohio University, courses like The History of Rock and Roll can be a breath of fresh air for students looking for an easy way to fulfill a general requirement. Lloyd Seiter, a junior studying Chemical Engineering is currently enrolled in the course with award-winning Professor Andre Gribou, a professor of piano, composition, and general studies. “Dr. Gribou is a swell fellow who has lived long enough to witness The Doors perform live, the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan, and the age of rock be suffocated by the likes of Justin Bieber,” he says, “His passion for the subject is paralleled by none.”
Professor Gribou has received an A- on RateMyProfessors.com. “Professor Gribou is my favorite professor that I have had so far. He is very knowledgeable in the music field and shows that he knows what he is talking about. He is also very passionate about music and expresses that through his lectures. I would definitely request everyone to take his class,” says an anonymous commenter. Lloyd agrees, “I’d definitely recommend the class to a friend that expressed any interest in Rock and Roll.”
Which history course have you taken at Ohio University? Let us know!
Hustling from class to class, the last thing on many Ohio University students’ minds would be to stop, plant a smooch on someone special, and head on their way.
But, hey, if you want to — OU’s got a place.
“The Kissing Circle” as it is called, is located in the middle of College Green near Chubb Hall. It’s a small plaque encircled by bricks and reads:
“The Kissing Circle holds fond memories for decades of Ohio University alumni and symbolizes our affection and dedication to one another. May it remind future students, as it has those of the past, of valued friendships formed here and inspire loyalty to our school. — Dedicated by the Class of 2005”
Here are the quick facts you need to know about this tradition:
Kissing circle: http://www.athensnews.com/culture/special_sections/college-green-landmark-was-a-magnet-for-lovers/article_3c478f2d-8b9b-58e1-a1b5-28e8859631b0.html
Luke Furman | Court Street Stories
Throughout the past couple centuries, many Americans of every background have battled for civil rights and equality for the country as a whole. And, in our small corner of Ohio, many at Ohio University joined the battle alongside the nation. Here is a brief chronological list of events detailing how Ohio University and several of its graduates progressed the movement for social equality.
1828 – John Newton Templeton becomes the first black man to graduate from Ohio University.
Born as a slave in South Carolina only a year after the University was founded, Templeton entered Ohio University in 1824 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1828. He became the first black man to graduate from a college in Midwest and the fourth nationwide.
The present day Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium bears his name along with Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn. A scholarship also bears his name.
1873 – Margaret Boyd becomes the first woman to graduate from Ohio University.
Entering the freshman class of 1869, Margaret “Maggie” Boyd graduated from Ohio University in the class of 1873 with a bachelor’s degree of arts, becoming the first woman graduate in the school’s then 69 year history. The decision to allow a woman into the university came from its majority Methodist faculty, which adopted the progressive ideas of the time.
A present-day scholarship program focused on women students carries her name, a remembrance of her trailblazing studies.
1916 – Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn becomes the first black woman to graduate from Ohio University.
Just four years before Congress amended the Constitution to give women the right to vote, Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn made waves at Ohio University by becoming the first black woman to graduate from the institution. She received a bachelor’s degree in education and went on to teach home economics, specifically sewing. She had three home economics job offers before she even graduated. If only the rest of us could be so lucky.
1959 – Alvin C. Adams becomes the first black graduate of Ohio University’s School of Journalism.
One hundred and thirty one years after John Newton Templeton paved the way for black students at Ohio University, Alvin C. Adams became the school’s first black graduate of its renown journalism program. After graduating, Adams worked for the The Chicago Daily Defender and would go on to cover Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and Malcolm X’s assassination for Jet. He died in 2004 at the age of 77. Adams Hall on South Green, which was completed in 2007, currently bears his name.
These four individuals accomplished the task of creating the diverse student body Ohio University holds today. With their determination, along with the help of progressive-minded faculty, Ohio University claims a history rich of social equality and forward-thinking.