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Pleasant View Luther College

Ottawa, Illinois



The Ottawa Trader-Journal and The Times of Streator, Illinois carried news of the school.   Both A History of the Norwegians in Illinois by A.E. Strand  and   Nattinger's Souvenir of Ottawa, Illinois in Nineteen Hundred profiled the early history of the school.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library provided the 1896-97 Announcement.  The 1911 ad (right) is from the Ottawa Tidende.


In 1893 a conference of the United Norwegian Church of Illinois began plans for a “first class institution of learning” with these these goals: to prepare students for entrance to colleges and universities; to prepare teachers for common and parochial schools; to provide training for those pursuing practical business careers; to provide training in the art of music.  The school was to be “distinctively Christian in accordance with the Lutheran form of faith.”  Students were required to attend chapel daily.

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Reverend Lauritz A. Vigness was secured as president, and classes opened in Ottawa on October 1896.   By 1900 a school profile showed eight programs of study aligned with the original goals: elementary, elementary normal, advanced normal, college preparatory, business, stenography, parochial normal, and music.  But in 1899 the Minneapolis Daily Times noted, “The name is a misnomer,” as the school was an academy rather than a college.  Finally in 1926, according to The Times, P.V.L.C. added a two-year junior college department.  The Great Depression ended the school in 1936.  An initial enrollment of 167 had fallen to 79 by 1928.

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P.V.L.C. school band.  Image from Nattinger's Souvenir.

Not surprising for a school which had music training as a goal, musical events became a staple of college activity.  P.V.L.C sponsored a band, an orchestra, quartets and other choral groups, which performed on campus and in area churches.  Senior recitals were a regular part of commencement.


The Melanchton Literary Society provided training in oratory and declamation.  School-sponsored debate teams competed against area academies and high schools.  Newspapers note a graduation play in 1922.  P.V.L.C debate teams together with oration and declamation speakers competed in the annual Lutheran Inter-Academies Tournament.

Bricks and Mortar

Ottawa, a town of around 10,000 in 1895 located roughly 80 miles southwest of Chicago, was chosen as the site for the college.  The campus of Pleasant View Luther overlooked the south side of town.   College Building was a three-story brick structure with a mansard roof.  The 1913 Sanborn Fire Map shows it to have classrooms in the basement and first floor, with two floors of dormitory rooms above. The building featured steam heat and both gas and electric lights.  it contained a chapel, also used for public events such as graduations and debates.


In 1914 a four-story brick dormitory for girls was added, its basement served as a dining hall for both boys and girls.   At some time prior to 1920 P.V.L.C. also added a gymnasium.


In 1937 campus building were converted into a nursing home. Pleasant View Luther Home opened on November 1. 

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College Building.  Image from Norwegians in Illinois.


A high school for much of its history, Pleasant View Luther College had a similar athletic history.  Newspapers show a football game with Ottawa High School in 1898.  College football Data Warehouse also lists two losses to Ottawa High School in 1900.   The Ottawa Free Trader-Journal shows that the 1922 team had a 0-3-1 record, losing to the Ottawa Lights 20-7, and to Sandwich High School 18-0, before tying Wenona High School 20-20.  A “seriously crippled” team was then overwhelmed by Peru St. Bede’s Academy 113-0. With that loss, the players “lost all interest in the game.”  The Data Warehouse shows a 13-0 loss to Waldorf Junior College in 1935.


The P.V.L.A. basketball team lost to Newark High School 14-8 in 1911.  In 1917 a team played in the Illinois Valley Tournament.  In 1922 the school fielded both boys’ and girls’ teams.  In the late 1920’s P.V.L.C. basketball teams began participating in the Lutheran Inter Academic Tournament with other Lutheran-based academies.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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