Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

the trustees directed a committee, headed by judge Aldrich, to determine what constituted residence in the County, according to the intent of the founders. They determined that only those whose parents were legal residents of the County at the time of students' admission were entitled to free tuition. Others were charged $100 a year from 1870 to 1880; thereafter the fee was $150.

There was some fluctuation in the size of entering classes, but no great increase in total enrollment. One hundred students was the maximum up to 1880, and the total did not exceed one hundred fifty for another decade. Consequently there was no serious increase in the housing problem. Many students lived at home, and there were many families in the vicinity of the campus that were willing and eager to augment income by "taking Techs." Several boarding houses were established, some of which were patronized by many generations of students. New houses built in the Institute neighborhood were usually provided with one or more spare rooms designed for student occupancy.

One former student of this period, who kept a detailed cash account, reports that his average yearly expense was less than $340, exclusive of tuition, which was provided by a State scholarship. This figure included room and board at five dollars a week, fuel, light, books and supplies, clothing, railway fares to and from his home, and all incidentals.

Since few of the students had either time or money to spend on formal amusements, they had to create their own pastimes. Walking had not then become an obsolete form of recreation. Boys thought nothing of walking to Lake Quinsigamond or to New Worcester for a few hours of boating or swimming or skating. They went fishing through the ice for pickerel at North Pond and swam in Salisbury Pond. One of the first class relates that bathing suits were not required at the latter resort until the occupant of the only house in sight complained that her daughter could see the bathers, "but," he added, "only by using opera glasses."


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999