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History, Nostalgia & Administrivia

Posted: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

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John Syme

John Syme graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor of arts degree in French in 1985. He worked as a general-assignment reporter at The Winston-Salem Journal, where he later wrote freelance travel stories during his first solo cross-country road trip in the summer of 1989. He worked as a copywriter at a Charlotte advertising agency, as a research translator at a French nutrition center outside Paris, and as a politics and education newspaper reporter in Charlotte. He returned in 2001 to Davidson, where he is senior writer, alumni editor and instigator of the "Road Trip 2009" blog, which evolved into his current blog, "Daybook Davidson."

In honor of the Great Davidson Terquasquicentennial (1837–2012, you do the math), the good folks over at College Archives and Special Collections are offering up tidbits of “This Day in Davidson History” on their blog, “Around the D,” as well as on the “Davidson Encyclopedia” pages.

To whet your appetite for online adventure, here is a sampling from the cornucopia of knowledge in the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections pages. Answers below. Enjoy!

1. Why is “Around the D” called “Around the D”?

2. The original Chambers Building, named for Mr. Maxwell Chambers of Salisbury, was built with funds bequeathed at his death in 1855. In 1852, he made a donation for a professorship in what department?

3. Mary Beatty’s A History of Davidson College was published in 1988, preceded by Beatty’s town history in 1979 and college librarian Cornelia Shaw’s town history in 1923. What book will join this august historical company in 2012?

4. From earliest beginnings, “Physical Culture” has been important in the ethos of the college. By 1893, students had formed the Davidson College Athletic Association to finance teams. What is the main fundraising arm for Davidson’s NCAA Division I programs today?

5. In what year did the Board of Trustees first pledge Davidson to a future of affordable access, which finds expression in The Davidson Trust today?

6. Why did the Centennial Parade of 1937 get cancelled?

7. What action did Davidson’s Civil War president, John Lycan Kirkpatrick, take to ensure that Davidson was one of only two Southern men’s schools to remain open during the war?

8. In what year was the first “DCPC” completed on campus?

9. Future President Walter Lingle 1892 was knocked unconscious during a club game of what sport?

10. How many lakefront acres did Duke Power donate to Davidson when Lake Norman formed, and in what year?

11. What is the “peculiar institution”?

12. Where did Ovens Student Union stand before its demolition in 1972?


1. From the bygone expression, “I’ll see you around the D,” a reference to the semi-circular road that once ran from Main Street to the front of Chambers and back over to Main on the other side.

2. Chemistry. The third and fourth holders of the “Chemistry, Minerology and Geology” professorship were father and son William Joseph Martin, Sr., and William Joseph Martin, Jr. The elder Martin was Chambers Professor from 1870 to 1896, the younger from 1896 to 1912. Both men also served as college president, the father as acting president for one year and the son as president from 1912 to 1929.

3. One Town, Many Voices: A History of Davidson, N.C., by College Archivist Jan Blodgett and Vail Professor of History Ralph Levering, publishes this spring.

4. The Davidson Athletic Foundation.

5. The minutes from an 1841 meeting contain a pledge to keep the Davidson opportunity “within the reach of many in our land, who could not otherwise obtain it.”

6. It rained for three days and the parade was never rescheduled. Members of the Class of 1937 were invited to campus for a Terquasquicentennial Celebration luncheon on March 20.

7. He opened a “prep” department when regular students were called away.

8. The first Davidson College Presbyterian Church was completed in 1885, the first year of the tenure of the Rev. Luther McKinnon. The current building dates to 1952.

9. Football. Davidson played its first intercollegiate game in 1898. Two decades later, the “preachers” would become known as the Wildcats.

10. In 1963, Lake Campus began with 109.6 acres of mud bank, all of it raw, red clay.

11. Slavery is referred to as “the peculiar institution” in the title of the introductory installment of the video special production Always Part of the Fabric: A look at the history of African-American contributions to Davidson. The final installment is titled “From Integration to Commitment to Diversity.”

12. Ovens Student Union was built as Alumni Gymnasium in 1916–17, then remodeled in 1952 and expanded in 1963 before being torn down to make way for today’s E.H. Little Library.

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