The Richmond Register

April 15, 2013

Old Eastern and even older Central University

Madison's Heritage

By Fred Engle
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Way back in the 1930s Mause Gibson was an art teacher at Eastern. She also wrote a batch of faculty character sketches.

It would be too much to quote her descriptions, and no one is left in the community to remember most of these past faculty members anyway.

However here is a listing of the cast of characters from the 1930s:  Dr. Virginia Spencer, Miss Margaret T. Lynch, Dean Mary Roark, Miss Leila Partridge, Madame Helena Prothoward, Dr. E.C. McDougle, President John Grant Crabbe, Prof. G.D. Smith, Prof. J.R. Johnson, Prof. and Mrs. J.G. Koch, Prof. I.H. Booth, Mrs. Patty Miller Hume, President T. J. Coates, Mrs. Mary B. Deane, Wren Jones Grinstead, R.A. Foster and roscoe Gilmore Scott.

Does anyone recognize any of these “characters” of the 1930s?  If you do, you are doing better than I am.

Central University was a Southern Presbyterian school founded in 1874. It closed in 1901, merging with Centre College in Danville. Its departure left a readymade campus for Eastern to occupy in 1906 when the state legislature determined that the “sons and daughters” of the state needed better teachers in the elementary and secondary grades if Kentucky was to be a progressive state.

I attended grades 7 through 12 in the old Central University Classroom Building. I knew nothing about Central University back then. It was just fun to go right outside the building and be able to play ball and have recess where the Combs classroom building now stands.

As a college student in the late 1940s, I came upon the story of Central University by Eastern history professor J.T. Dorris. He had published a history of Central University in the April 1934 issue of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Many years later, I published an updated history of Central University in the same publication.

Over the years we have written in some detail about many aspects of Central University, its administration, famous presidents and interesting qualities.

The school’s founding reflected the divisions of the Civil War. With the passage of time and the fact that the school ran out of students and resources, the old wounds were healed and Central merged with Centre, a Northern Presbyterian institution.

The president’s home at EKU is one of the few remaining buildings from Central University.

PUBLICATION NOTE:  

Dr. Fred Engle passed away March 8 at age 83. He had already written a number of Madison’s Heritage that is family is making available for publication.

Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years by Dr. Engle and Dr. Robert Grise is available in the paperback book, “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.” Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by Dr. Engle’s granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, the book is available for $19.99 plus tax.

Autographed copies may be purchased at the Richmond Tourism Office (Irvinton House) on Lancaster Avenue as well as ClearSight Optometry, 5019 Atwood Drive, and Baldwin CPAs, 713 W. Main St.

Autographed copies also are available by calling Kathryn Engle at 893-0947 or 623-1150.

These books make excellent birthday presents for family or friends. Keep in touch with out-of-town family and friends by sharing this gift of home.