Athletic Field (1911) & (1920) – Revised

This is a revision to this post. I had previously listed the athletic field in the incorrect location. Thanks to Tom Longden for pointing out this error.

The athletic field was located at East Douglas and Cambridge NOT East Douglas and Cornell.


The athletic field was expanded in 1923, much to the grumbling of neighbors. DMU acquired an extra 25 feet to expand the field at a cost of $10,000. A concrete bleacher/grandstand with capacity of seating 5,000 people would be built before the first football game in September. Many residents felt the expansion would narrow Cambridge Street too much and make travel down the road during games difficult. DMU went ahead with their expansion anyway.

The Tiger Annual, 1927

“The City’s Business.” Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa: 25 August 1923, p. 12. Accessed: 06 December 2016.
“Concrete Bleachers Des U. Plan.” The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois: 19 August 1923, p. 22. Accessed: 06 December 2016.
“Council Visits Stadium Site.” Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa: 23 August 1923, p. 2. Accessed: 06 December 2016.
“Iowa News.” Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa: 23 August 1923, p. 6. Accessed: 06 December 2016.
The Tiger. Des Moines: Iowa: Students of Des Moines University, 1927.


Athletic Field (1911 & 1920)

President Longwell did not believe in college sports. He thought it took too much time away from a student when they should be focused on their academics. Longwell did believe in what he called ‘physical culture’. This amounted to all students participating in calisthenics before chapel exercises.

By 1901, Longwell had little say in the building of the athletic field, shown above. He’d been ousted during a change of management. By 1902, he returned to take control of the school once more.

Highland Park College, and later, Des University, would keep their football, basketball, baseball and track even through all the owner changes.

In 1927, the gymnasium was built a few blocks west of the athletic field. The gym survived. The athletic field did not. The land at East Douglas & Cornell was razed in 1955 to make way for home development.

Google Maps 2016.


Livingston, T. M. “Highland Park College.” Highland Park News and Advertiser, Vol. XXX, No. 10, March 8, 1955, p. 2.
Longwell, O.H. Autobiography., p. 104
The Piper. Annual. 1911.
The Tiger. Annual. 1920.

Childs Hall (1912)

childs hall
Architect’s Rendering of Childs Hall (The Piper, 1914).

No one could pin point a cause to the destructive fires that destroyed Lowell and Franklin Halls, the two dormitories at Highland Park College, in July of 1911. It was the second fire to take place on the campus within the year. President Longwell fired off a missive announcing a new dormitory would be built immediately. It would have the capacity to house 250 students, be fireproof, and cost an estimate $50,000.00. [i] However, President Longwell neglected to provide the public with all the facts. The two dormitories provided additional income of $10,000.00 which the college needed to recuperate in order to stay in the black.[ii] Salvation came in the form of a generous benefactress from Waterloo, Iowa. She gave $40,000.00 to build the much needed dormitory.[iii] Ground broke on December 27, 1911.[iv] A year later, Eleanor Dix Childs announced at chapel exercises she would give an additional $10,000.00.[v]

The additional cash helped build a new dormitory 187 x 42 feet.[vi] It would be three stories. The Home Economics Department would fill three fourths of the basement with class rooms and laboratories. The building was ready for everyone to move in by the fall of 1912.[vii]

home ec
Home Economics class room in the basement of Childs Hall (The Piper, 1914)

See Additional Posts:


[i] “Highland Park Dormitories Burn.” The Register & Leader. Friday July 14, 1911 pg. 1 & 2.

[ii]  Longwell, Oliver H. Autobiography. Des Moines, Iowa: Highland Park Publishing Company, 1919, pg. 94.

[iii] The American Educational Review: A Monthly Review of the Progress, Volume 33. American Educational Company, 1912, pg. 34

[iv] The Purple and White. Des Moines, Iowa: The Students of Highland Park College, 1912.

[v] “Iowa News Briefs.” Marble Rock Journal, 37. No. 16. Marble Rock, Iowa: December 36, 1912, pg. 1.

[vi] The Purple and White. Des Moines, Iowa: The Students of Highland Park College, 1912.

[vii] Annual Catalogue of the Officers, Faculty and Students. Des Moines University. 1921-1923. Mocavo. 2010-2015. Accessed: 10 January 2015; The Students of Highland Park College. The Piper. Des Moines, Iowa: Highland Park College, 1914.