College of Wooster 1874 Rock

The 1874 memorial rock sits proudly on The College of Wooster campus.

If you have ever taken a walk on The College of Wooster campus you have probably been drawn to the large rock located near the east side of McGaw Chapel and south of Kauke Hall’s west wing that has a large inscription of “1874”. The College was established in 1866 and did not hold it’s first classes until 1870. Which leaves a person wondering what is the significance of 1874?

Looking back in time through an old issue of The Wooster Quarterly printed in July of 1914, which was a publication intended for the college’s alumni, the amusing story of how the rock became part of the college campus is recounted on page 114:

COW 1874 Memorial Rock

The College of Wooster 1874 Memorial Rock

The last fortnight of the fourth year you might have seen a gang of men busily digging down on the southwest corner of the present campus. I think it was a little beyond the southwest corner of the present campus. Near the street was the outcrop of a big boulder which rose about a foot above the surface. With great effort they dug around it and about it and got down below it on the sides, set timbers, put great chains around, and by means of many jack-screws gradually raised it up, propping underneath as it rose. At last they got it up to the level of the surface one evening and left it there.

That night some hoodlums from somewhere, I am sure they were not from the college, loosened the timbers, pulled them out in some shape or other, and rolled the great stone back into the hole! But the class of ’74 were back of that enterprise. They intended to have that stone as their memorial and were not to be baffled. They set to work with might and main, helping the men themselves, and after awhile it was raised once more, safely put upon great timbers, those timbers placed upon rollers and the great stone of ’74, that you love and care for now, that you all regard as a precious, tho rugged, memorial of class loyalty, found the place on the campus that it has kept ever since.

Graduate in front of the class of 1874 memorial rock.

The class of 1874 was not the first group of students to graduate from the College but it would have been the first group of students who had the opportunity to complete all four years of their education at the College. It should be noted that since the rock was dug out, placed on campus, and photography became easily accessible there has been a tradition for recent graduates to get there picture taken in front of the 1874 rock in their cap and gown. Furthermore, before Memorial Chapel was destroyed many brides and grooms also had their picture taken in front of the rock. I believe the class of 1874 would be happy to know that their sweat and back-breaking excavation of the large boulder created one of the oldest and longest lasting memorials on campus.

Did you get your picture taken in front of the 1874 rock?


  1. James M Berndt says

    I attended several church summer youth conferences in the 50s. I fondly remember the rock as well as the Memorial Chapel nearby They seemed to blend so well together. Lots of memories in that chapel. I was on campus in the late 80s – very sad to see that wonderful chapel gone – rock was still there!

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