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Central University of Kentucky

Richmond, Kentucky



Internet Archive contains the last four issues of Cream and Crimson, the yearbook of Central University. Catalogues and bulletins are available from both the Internet Archive and HathiTrust.


Until the Civil War the Presbyterian Church of Kentucky supported Centre College at Danville.  The war led to a split in the church.  Southern factions of the church opened a rival institution called Central University, based at Richmond.  Citizens of Richmond and Madison County supplied almost half of the $220,000 endowment. 


What came to be called Central University of Kentucky was a College of Philosophy, Letters, and Science; a College of Law; and the Richmond Preparatory School, all at Richmond; the  Hospital College of Medicine and the Louisville College of Dentistry, both at Louisville; the S.P. Lees Collegiate Institute at Jackson, and the Hardin Collegiate Institute at Elizabethtown. 


The College of Philosophy, Letters and Science had 22 Seniors in 1901, so the enrollment of the main college would have been something well over one hundred.  The 1892 bulletin lists an enrollment of 217, most from Kentucky. The student body was predominantly male, though each class had at least one female who figured prominently in publications.


There were two literary societies and four social fraternities as well as a YMCA chapter on the Richmond campus.  The college sponsored contests in oratory and debate, and students published a weekly newspaper in addition to the yearbook.  School dances were sponsored by the fraternities and by the Cotillion Club, whose annual February Ball was the major social event.  After 1892 there was a military presence on campus, giving students an opportunity to be a part of the Central College Battalion.


In 1901 financial considerations resulted in the merger of the two Presbyterian institutions.  Central University joined Centre College on the Danville campus. 

University Building today,_Eastern_Kentucky_University.jpg  CC BY SA-3.0)  Accessed 10-14-2017

Bricks and Mortar

The first building on the Central University campus was University Building, constructed in 1874.  It was a three-story building in Italianate style made from brick, fired on site.  The portico has four two-story columns with Corinthian capitals.


It was one of eight buildings on the Richmond campus at the time of the merger. In 1906 The Kentucky Legislature created a state school at Richmond, using the old Central University campus. 


Long a Model Teaching building, University Building still operates as a classroom building today on the Eastern Kentucky University campus.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1973.




            Colors: Cream and Crimson


Central University played big time football in the 1890’s.  Among their usual opponents were Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Washington and Lee, Sewanee, Georgetown and Transylvania.  Their annual grudge match was against Centre.


Baseball was the other big sport at Central.  The school also boasted of a tennis club.  The last campus building constructed was the Miller Gymnasium.  This building allowed the school to put on a gymnastics exhibition each year.

The 1899 team had a 3-4 record.  Central defeated Kentucky, Transylvania and Washington & Lee; they had narrow losses to Ole Miss, Bethel (TN), and Vanderbilt.  Centre hung a 34-16 loss on the Cream and Crimson. (Cream and Crimson, <>)  (accessed 10-14-2017)


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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