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Charles City College

Charles City, Iowa



The Director of the Floyd County Historical Society and Museum had invited me down to see their holdings on Charles City College, including the Cardinal and Old Gold, the school’s only yearbook. After taking notes and ordering photos, I got directions for the old campus.  No one was home at the President’s House, so I shot a photo from across the street, hoping that the owners would not object.  I also took photos of the remodeled Girl’s Dormitory before leaving town.   


Charles City College began in Galena, IL as the German-English Normal School, a secondary school founded by the German Methodist Church of Galena.  In the period up to 1890 the school added theological and classical courses and became a college.  In 1891 the Northwest German Church Conference moved the school to Charles City.


The 1914 Cardinal and Old Gold shows a faculty of 15 and a student body of fewer than one hundred.  The graduating class that year had three in liberal arts, three from the normal school, three from the academy, two in oratory, three in music, thirteen in business and nine in stenography.


Despite the low numbers, Charles City College offered the usual opportunities for its students.  In addition to musical and oratorical groups, there were both a Y.M.C.A. and a Y.W.C.A.; Charles City offered no fewer than four literary societies—Washingtonia, Teutonia, Willard and Philomathia—giving every student an opportunity to participate.


The Charles City Press noted in a 1966 write-up that the college had struggled financially from its inception.  It did not help matters that both the state of Iowa and the Northeast Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges raised the financial standards for accreditation.  After a fund-raising effort failed to attract the necessary funds, college authorities determined to close the school in June 1914, transferring funds and equipment to Morningside College at Sioux City.


Another Charles City College operated briefly in 1967-68.


Bricks and Mortar

The Administration Building was not completed until 1892, the college using the Baptist Church basement and vacant rooms on Main Street until then.  After the college closed, the building sat empty before becoming a lens grinding factory and finally a car repair shop.  Still only forty years old, it was torn down during the Depression.


One Charles City College building remains intact.  The President’s House is now a private residence.  The Girl’s Dormitory, burned in 1912, has since been rebuilt and enlarged.  It became the Cedar Valley Hospital; currently the building serves as the home of Comprehensive Systems' Crestview Administration Office.



Administration Building (Courtesy of Floyd County Historical Society and Museum)


      Colors: Cardinal and Old Gold


Charles City College fielded teams in football and basketball.  The football team played a limited schedule.  The 1913 team played four games—all against local competition—Cedar Valley Seminary, Fayette, Ellsworth, and Upper Iowa.  An Ellsworth player named A. Wagner made the news by returning a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown against Charles City during a 68-0 victory.   Iowa Normal—Northern Iowa today—was also a regular opponent


Charles City College also fielded a women’s basketball team in 1914.


1913 Charles City College football team. (Cardinal and Old Gold, Courtesy of Floyd County Historical Society and Museum)

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