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Wooster Digital History Project

Bringing OARDC to Wooster

First building on OARDC's Wooster campus, built Spring 1893.

Building a strong campus for the OARDC in Wooster took many years. The first building on campus is pictured here, erected in spring 1893.

With the Ohio State University (OSU) growing at a rapid pace, land became more expensive and OSU could no longer provide funds for the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES). Charles Thorne believed many of their financial problems could be solved by moving the station further from Columbus and began to look for a new location.1 Counties in Ohio made bids to house the facility so they could reap the benefits of the institution’s research. Wayne County won with their offer of $85,000 plus 470 acres of land for the OAES's new campus. While the Wayne County commissioners saw the benefits of having the station so close to home, local farmers were wary about paying taxes toward projects they knew so little about. Thorne wanted local Wayne County citizens’ support, so he made speeches telling farmers that having the OAES near their farms would eventually increase crop yields and the value of the land. Thorne convinced local farmers, and in 1892, OAES started the move to Wooster. Buildings were not yet erected on their new location, so OAES set up offices at 56 South Market Street.2

Early OARDC Wooster Campus Including Administration Building from 1911 Souvenir Booklet

The original buildings of Wooster’s OARDC campus included laboratories, a creamery, a dairy barn, and greenhouses.

Even though a majority of Wayne County supported the move, a few politicians remained tense about having their taxes raised for the station’s construction. A court case made it’s way to the Ohio Supreme Court that determined the $85,000 Wayne County bid should actually be paid for by the state of Ohio because the OAES would benefit all Ohioans.3 Ohio picked up the $85,000 expense and completed building in 1894 on Madison Hill, where the current campus remains today. After facing many challenges with reestablishing the OAES in Wooster, Charles Thorne began to deliver on his promises. The OAES in Wooster offered farmers a plethora of resources including greenhouses, orchards, laboratories, and test plots to experiment with crop rotation, which would help farmers increase their crop yields .4 

1 R.E. Whitmoyer, “A Brief History of OARDC,” Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, accessed 2013.
2 Christopher Cumo, History of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, 1882-1997 (Midwest Press, 1997).
3 Ibid.
4 “At Work: What is Being Done at the Experiment Station- Headquarters Established,” Wooster Weekly Republican, October 19, 1892, 3.
5 Sue Gorisek, “The Wizards of Wooster: Bill Krauss is recording 102 years of agricultural miracles on The Farm in Wooster,” Ohio Magazine, January 1985, 82.
6 F.E. Scobey and B.L. McElroy, The Biographical Annals of Ohio, 1902-1903: A Handbook of the Government and Institutions of the State of Ohio (compiled under authority of the act of May, 12, 1902), 828.