Alfred Lawson purchased the Des Moines University property in 1943 through his Humanity Benefactor Foundation. He dreamed of establishing a university that delved deeper into the mysterious of physics and his teachings of Lawsonomy. In December of that year, articles of incorporation were filed in Des Moines for the establishment of Des Moines University of Lawsonomy.
Through Lawson’s writing, he promised he would return Des Moines University to its former glory. But it wasn’t long before the area surrounding the college realized that all Lawson offered were promises.
Lawson was away a great deal and put a group of trustees in charge of the college. They erected a five foot fence around the property. Neighbors were awakened at 6:00 a.m. every morning to a bugle call. Young children worked on the grounds from morning until dusk, making some residents wonder how he bypassed child labor laws. Merchants became upset because Des Moines University of Lawsonomy would not do business with local business unless they advertised in the Benefactor, shown below.
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.
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.
The corner of 2nd and Euclid Avenues was a familiar site/drop off for rail car service. One of the most popular photographs of the college has the building below in prominent view. The building was first called the Streetcar Waiting Room. Later around the early 19-teens it was renamed the Wireless Building.
Next week I’ll post what this corner looked like in 1921 vs. 2016.