Chillicothe Business College
I last visited Chillicothe in 2010, having acquired my share of Missouri peaches and wine from the Dover area. I soon spotted the Grand River Historical Society Museum, which turned out to be across the street from the old CBC campus. The museum keeper regaled me with stories of CBC days, gave me a copy of the Dux, and pointed me to the last remaining campus building. It turned out that I received this royal treatment because I was mistaken for an important visitor from St. Louis, expected that day.
Chillicothe Business College began as a normal school in 1890 in Chillicothe, MO. The founder, Allen Moore, changed the focus of the school in 1911, when enrollment began to fall. By the mid 1930’s CBC, with an enrollment of more than 1,200 students, became the third largest college in Missouri and billed itself as the “largest business college in America.” Its motto “We see you through,” CBC provided work study for students and guaranteed then a job after graduation or their tuition would be refunded. Billboards advertising CBC (like that above) appeared all across the western United States. These always stated the number of miles to Chillicothe. In addition to the complete business course, CBC offered programs in general accounting, machine bookkeeping, stenography, and telegraphy. During World War II CBC trained more than 2,500 clerk typists for the U.S. Air Force and continued to receive military contracts after the war. The 1947 Dux shows an enrollment of almost 1,100. However, by the 1950’s the demand for business training had declined, and the school closed in 1952.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1936 CBC occupied 100 acres in Northwest Chillicothe, a town of fewer than 10,000 people. The campus consisted of thirty buildings—including veteran housing—and a lighted stadium. After the school closed in 1952, the campus was sold in 1956 to a St. Louis man named Gary Belin, who planned to open Belin Memorial University. The new school never materialized, and ultimately campus buildings became the site of Lambert Glove Factory. Except for Minerva Hall, the last buildings were razed in 2009
Minerva Hall, formerly a women’s dormitory, today houses the Long-Blum Retirement Center, an assisted living facility. The last remaining CBC building, it looks across a large vacant lot . Image courtesy of Melanie Edens.
Team name: Ducks
School colors: Purple and Gold
Chillicothe Business College sponsored varsity teams in football, basketball and track. In addition, since every student was a member of a regional school group, CBC had strong intramural programs in basketball, tennis, and swimming.
Football began in 1901 while the school was still a “normal.” Because of an ideal location in north central Missouri and having one of the first lighted football stadiums (1931), CBC was able to develop strong rivalries not only with a number of Missouri schools, but also with McKendree, IL; Graceland, IA; St. Benedicts, KS; Kansas City JC, KS; Haskell, KS; and Oklahoma Military Academy. Traditional Missouri rivals included Rockhurst, Kemper, Wentworth, Moberly JC, and Missouri Teachers College (Truman State University).
CBC academic programs did not lend themselves to traditional four-year classification, so Duck teams were likely at a disadvantage competing against traditional schools. However, the teams of 1929-1930 each went 7-1-1.
The 1922-23 CBC team had a 4-2-2 record, good for second place in the Missouri State Conference. This team defeated conference champion Wentworth as well as St. Benedicts, Quincy, and Northwest State Teachers College in non-conference games. The Ducks, lost to Kemper in the conference and Northeast State Teachers. They drew with Graceland and with conference rival Missouri Military Academy. (1923 Dux, Courtesy of Grand River Historical Society Museum)