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Wooster Digital History Project

"President of a Hole in the Ground": President Holden's Rush to Rebuild

Soon after the main academic building burned down, the townspeople, students, faculty, and Wooster’s  Board of Trade met to discuss the future. The town quickly came to the College’s aid and loaned them the newly built school in the Second Ward, while the Board of Trade gave the College $15,000. Donations started to pour in from alumni of the College, local businesses such as the Wooster Brush Works, and local churches such as St. Mary’s.2  President Holden was away from the College when the fire occurred, but immediately sprang into action when he found out about the incident. He sent fourteen dollars worth of telegrams, worth approximately $400 today, to wealthy businessmen for help.3  Despite a swift and positive initial response, the College still required more money and successful rebuilding remained uncertain until a mysterious benefactor stepped forward with an offer.

1 “Flames Work Destruction. The Outlook Encouraging,” The Wooster Voice, December 14, 1901, Vol. XXI, No. 14.
2 Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compare the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, accessed June 20, 2013,
3 “Wooster and Wayne to the Rescue- $100,000 Promised for University Building If $40,000 Be Raised In Wooster and Wayne Co.- Citizens Should Rally to the Help of the University- New Subscriptions Received,” Wayne County Herald, January 2, 1902, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, Whole No. 1243.