Compelling details make up CSU’s rich history. Here’s what you should know:
Built on the site of an early health resort: Wilberforce University was founded in 1856 at the former Tawawa Springs, a health resort located east of Xenia at a site adjoining the current location of Central State University.
Some didn't like the visitors: Southern slaveholders would travel to the resort for relaxation and often brought their slaves. Northerners did not approve of the practice and business declined. The resort closed in 1855.
The Carnegie Library at Central State University was built in 1907. It was one of only 9 Carnegie Libraries donated to historically black colleges after the turn of the 20th century. Reprinted by permission of Central State University Archives, Wilberforce, OH
An intellectual mecca: Named in honor of William Wilberforce, an 18th-century abolitionist, the Tawawa Springs hotel and cottages were transformed into Wilberforce University, to "provide an intellectual mecca and refuge from slavery's first rule: ignorance," according to the university's historical narrative.
Vocational education for the students: The new Combined Normal and Industrial Department offered teacher training and vocational education for students. An early catalogue listed auto mechanics, blacksmithing and forging, carpentry, and shoe-making and repairing among the courses.
Native flora: According to historical information provided by CSU's website, every tree native to Ohio and the Midwest is believed to be represented in the Tawawa Woods bordering the campus.
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In 1887 the Ohio General Assembly passed an act that created a Combined Normal and Industrial Department at Wilberforce University which would become Central State University. The new school offered teaching training and vocational education for students. An early catalogue listed auto mechanics, blacksmithing and forging, carpentry, and shoe-making and repairing among the courses. Reprinted by permission of Central State University Archives, Wilberforce, OH
Four-year degree: Central State College was formed in 1951. The Combined Normal and Industrial Department developed into a four-year program and split from Wilberforce University in 1947 before being renamed.
A change in status: In 1965, the school achieved university status and became Central State University.
University leaders: Charles H. Wesley was the first president of Central State University. He served from 1947 to 1965. In 2012 Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, became the current university president.
Tornado devastates the university: A tornado destroyed more than 80 percent of the campus on April 3, 1974. Four people were killed and more than 20 others were injured. Thirteen buildings were destroyed and 29 others damaged. The damage amounted to $30 million.
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A scene of a banking class at the Combined Normal and Industrial Department at Wilberforce University which would become Central State University. Reprinted by permission of Central State University Archives, Wilberforce, OH
Spirituals, gospel and jazz: The internationally acclaimed CSU chorus performs in many styles including African American spirituals, gospel and jazz. The group performs locally with the Dayton Opera and the Dayton Philharmonic as well as taking part in European tours and appearing at the White House.
Gardens symbolic for students: The Sunken Gardens serve as the heart of campus. Each fall, entering freshman march though the gardens during a candlelight ceremony. Graduating seniors proceed through the sunken gardens on their way to commencement.
Central State University has a long history of excellence in music and choir. Reprinted by permission of Central State University Archives, Wilberforce, OH
Land-Grant Institution: Central State University was designated a Land-Grant Institution in 2014, a classification it had sought since 1890. It is one of only two universities in the state to achieve the designation.
ABOUT THIS FEATURE
HISTORY EXTRA is a weekly pictorial history feature showcasing the Miami Valley’s rich heritage. If you have a unique set of historic photos found in your parents’ or grandparents’ attic that depicts the past in the Miami Valley, contact Lisa Powell at 937-225-2229 or at Lisa.Powell@coxinc.com.