Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

In June, 1905, the Alumni Association made a decisive move in its plan to provide the Institute with athletic facilities. Gifts for that purpose over a period of years had accumulated to only a small sum, but with $6,000 advanced by six individuals, the Association voted to purchase Bliss field, a tract of about five acres opposite the Mechanical Laboratories on West Street, at a cost of $40,000, and to borrow the balance in anticipation of subsequent alumni gifts. A landscape architect was retained to make a layout for the field and a small gymnasium. The next spring, students spent a full day enthusiastically removing the stones in the field, that had previously hampered practice there. But the gifts were slow in coming and interest on the mortgage became a burden. Finally Charles G. Stratton, '75, president of the Alumni Association, who had already been a generous contributor, advanced $5,200 to complete the transaction in April, 1909. By that time interest, taxes and incidental expenses had consumed nearly $6,000. Mr. Stratton later made the Association a gift of the $2,000 that it had not repaid him. The deed to the field was turned over to the Trustees, but its grading and the construction of a gymnasium were merely aspirations.

An equally valuable addition to Institute property came in the fall of 1906. The Hill estate, a tract of two and a half acres at the corner of Boynton and Salisbury streets, had long been coveted by the Trustees. Ten years before Stephen Salisbury gave the Institute its first tract of land, he had sold this large corner lot to J. Henry Hill, who had built upon it a large house and a barn. Though unoccupied for several years, the price set upon it was prohibitive. In 1906, however, James Logan learned that it was about to be sold, and that three-decker tenements were to be erected there. Immediately securing an option, he appealed to five alumni: Elmer P. Howe, '71, Edward K. Hill, '71, Fred H. Daniels, '73, John W. Kendrick, '73, and T. Edward Wilder, '74. These six men bought the property at a cost of $25,000 and


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