ARCHIVE| Canton, as seen through the Gridiron of 1901

Football 1901The St. Lawrence football team of 1899. Note the St. Bernard in the foreground. I don’t know their record, but their schedule included games against the University of Rochester and Clarkson.

Years ago, at With Pipe and Book, the famed tobacco and antiquarian bookshop in Lake Placid, I bought a copy of the 1901 Gridiron, the St. Lawrence yearbook. Founded in 1882, the Gridiron was published sporadically until 1926, when it became an annual.

This edition, published by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s bookworks on behalf of the Class of 1901, appears to cover the academic years of 1899-1900 and 1900-1901. It’s a fascinating time capsule and every time, I pull it off the shelf, I’m amazed at how far our little college in the north has come. Sure, many of the institutions that remain vibrant today — the Thelomathesian, the Laurentian, our sports teams, the fraternities and sororities — were going concerns in 1900. Many other institutions, notably my beloved Hill News, were still in the future.

The college year of 1899 began on a very late Tuesday, Sept. 19 and concluded with the thirty-sixth Commencement on Wednesday, June 27, 1900. The Theological School, closed in 1965, held its fortieth Commencement on Tuesday, June 26, 1900. I believe the University today counts forward from the Theological School’s first Commencement of 1860. Enrollment, by my count, was at about 100 students, far below today’s 2,200 or so. Sports were football, baseball, basketball and track. Hockey, so much a part of the Laurentian experience for generations, recorded its first organized season in 1926-27.

The campus of 1901 consisted of Richardson Hall, the late great Fisher Hall, consumed by fire in 1951 (sited roughly where today’s Owen D. Young ‘94 library stands), a gymnasium and Park Street Hall, a fine Victorian house that sat across the road from Phi Sigma Kappa’s Proctor Gilson ‘13 Hall until the advent of Vilas Hall in 1965. The gym would later give way to Gunnison Chapel (completed in 1925), Herring would get its Cole Reading Room addition in 1901, Carnegie Hall would go up in 1905 and the rest of the old campus would be in place with the completion of Sykes Hall in 1930.

Still, our college is entirely recognizable in the Gridiron of 1901. Take a look:

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