Alfred Holbrook College
I first encountered references to Alfred Holbrook College a number of years ago when I was toying with the notion of researching the NAIA basketball tournament. Unable to locate a yearbook or even a catalog for the school, I have used Chester A. Roush’s 1980 history of the school as a source of information. Football and basketball team photos have been posted on a New Salem, Ohio blog.
Alfred Holbrook College opened in the fall of 1933 in Lebanon, OH. In its first year, it occupied the buildings left vacant when the National Normal University closed there in 1917. Some sources list Alfred Holbrook College as a continuation of NNU. Named for Alfred Holbrook (1816-1909), longtime educator at NNU, the college had a focus on training teachers. It remained in Lebanon for only one year before moving to Manchester, OH, a village of 2,000 on the Ohio River. Begun in the Great Depression, Alfred Holbrook College opened with an endowment of only $3,000 according to the Canton Repository. Its enrollment never robust—50-75 students yearly—the school had financial problems throughout its existence. Additionally, in 1940 the military draft was starting to claim male students. Still the college remained in operation until the spring of 1941, when it closed its doors for good.
Bricks and Mortar
The college had purchased one building in Manchester—the Press Ellison Residence—which served as Main Building and the Student Union. In 1936 a library/science building was added—largely a WPA project. Other buildings—an auditorium, the armory and an athletic field—were leased. When the college closed, the Press Ellison property reverted to the Ellison family and became a private residence. It now houses the Manchester Historical Society. The library/science building is now a Manchester city office building containing the police department.
Press Ellison Residence. (Photo from the Manchester Historical Society, <www.facebook.com/ManchesterHistoricalSocietyAdamsCounty> accessed 1-23-2017
Team name: Dinosaurs
Colors: Blue and White
Alfred Holbrook fielded an intercollegiate football team each season of its existence. With a maximum of 35 male students enrolled in the college, the team never had enough players to scrimmage, and seldom suited up more than 15 players for a game. The Roundup Sports column of December 21, 1939 reported that Chester Roush played every minute of every game over a four-year period at Alfred Holbrook College. He had never played football before and had seen only one game before entering the college. Additionally, because of the need for guaranteed gate receipts, the team played almost entirely on the road. Despite these drawbacks, Coach Wendel E. Beattie’s teams compiled an eight–year record of 9-48-6. Three victories came over Rio Grande College; two more came over Union, KY. The teams regularly faced Louisville, Kent State, Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky and once bussed to East Orange, NJ to play Upsala College.
Alfred Holbrook basketball teams were more successful. Led by Roush and 5’9” 134 pound forward Rudy Rudisill, the Dinosaurs represented Ohio in the national small college tournament (NAIB) in Kansas City in both 1939 and 1940. The 1940 NAIA team lost to champion Tarkio in the first round.
The 1939 Dinosaurs. Chester “Red” Roush is number 18 on the front row; Rudy Rudisill is number 15 in the second row. (New Vienna Ohio Memories.<http://nvhsmemories.blogspot.com/search?q=Rudisill> accessed 1-23-2017