Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania
Alliance College has an active alumni association with a website, constantly updated with photos, videos, and news. The college got strong newspaper coverage at its dedication. Around Cambridge Springs contains history and photographs of the school.
The Polish National Alliance founded Alliance College in 1912 “to provide opportunities for Americans of Polish descent to learn about the mother country, its culture, history and language.” The 90,000 members of the Alliance paid a nickel each until sufficient funds for a college had been raised. The Alliance was then able to purchase the defunct Rider Hotel with land and outbuildings for $175,000. With President Taft as guest speaker at the dedication, the college opened in September 1912.
Alliance College opened as a preparatory academy with Polish history, literature and grammar being compulsory subjects. By 1915 technical training had been introduced, and before the end of World War I, the college had become a U.S. Army training center for mechanical subjects. The Technical Institute remained a part of Alliance College until 1965.
The initial student body consisted of 326 male students. Through the years enrollment was as high as 629 in 1948 and as low as 133 in 1986. Two events in 1948 increased the impact of Alliance College. In that year it became an accredited four-year liberal arts college. Also in that year it welcomed female students for the first time.
In 2012 the Meadville Tribune noted that alumni cited the small enrollment as a factor in the learning environment. One student claimed that professors had visited his dormitory room to encourage his studies. However, by 1987 that enrollment was no longer sufficient to maintain the school. It was closed in June 1987.
Not surprisingly, Alliance College became famous as the home of the Kujawiaki musical troupe. As early as the 1920's, there are newspaper accounts of a touring Polish musical/dance/drama/comedy troupe that toured the region. By the 1960’s, the group is referred to by the name Kujaweika Troupe, numbering around 40 students.
Alliance College also was the home of the Polish Museum. The first collection, containing letters from George Washington to Polish leaders during the Revolutionary War, burned in 1931. The second collection now resides at the University of Pittsburgh.
Postcard view of the Rider Hotel, first home of Alliance College. (<www.cardcow.com/207099/hotel-rider-cambridge-springs-pennsylvania/>) accessed 1-23-2017
Bricks and Mortar
The original home of Alliance College was the 270-room Rider Hotel, built in 1895, at a cost of $700,000. This building burned in 1931, so the college built other buildings on the hilltop. When co-eds were admitted in 1948, Alliance acquired the Bartlett Hotel to serve as their dormitory.
When the college closed in 1987, the buildings sat empty until purchased by the state of Pennsylvania. In 1991 the state opened the Correctional Institution for Women in the campus buildings.
Colors: Red and White
Team name: Eagles
According to College Football Data Warehouse, Alliance College played football only sporadically until after World War II. In four seasons after the war, Alliance compiled a 12-21 record. The 1948 team enjoyed a winning season. After losses to St. Francis (PA), St. Vincent’s (PA), Duquesne (PA), and Juanita (PA), the Eagles rebounded with five straight wins over Brockport State (NY), Lock Haven State (PA), Clarion (PA), Edinboro (PA), and Steubenville (OH). The Eagles won only one game in 1949 before dropping football in March 1950.
As a small school, Alliance was more successful in basketball. A newspaper article in 1925 stated that the team had won 9 of ten games and were seeking opponents. Led by seven-foot Frank Granat, the Eagles qualified for the NAIA tournament in Kansas City in both 1963 and 1965.
Newspaper accounts in the 1930’s show a track team; those of the 1950’s show a baseball team; those of the 1960’s show a soccer team.
The 1916-17 basketball team. Athletic Director Sox Harrison was the team's coach. (Image taken from Alliance College Alumni Association, ACAA Forums, "Sport Talk" 2012) 1-23-2017