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De Sales College

Toledo, Ohio



De Sales is another of the short-term colleges whose history has faded.  Newspaper coverage from the Toledo Blade or Canton Repository involving mostly sports.  The archivist from the Diocese of Toledo kindly provided the notes she had made about the school.  

Four members of the 1940 graduating class. (Toledo Blade, June 7, 1940)


St. John’s College, an all-male academy and university, closed in May 1936.  The Repository noted that the college portion of the school would merge with Toledo Teachers College. The new co-educational entity would offer “a liberal arts curriculum in professional education.”  Classes began in September 1936.  The Diocese archivist notes that the teachers were mostly priests and sisters as were many of the students.  


Sports write-ups in 1939 listed the enrollment as 216.


The Toledo Blade reported that at the Commencement of 1940, De Sales graduated 33 bachelor’s degree students—21 in arts, three in science, eight in education, two in nursing and one in business administration.  Seventeen graduates were female.   That music for commencement was provided by the Toledo Philharmonic suggests the absence of a music program at the college.


After the outbreak of World War II, De Sales College suspended operations. Some faculty shifted to Mary Manse College, a women’s institution operated by the Diocese. 



Bricks and Mortar

The archivist says that classes were held in the old St. John’s College building.  That building, begun in 1899, had a wing added in 1907.  It contained both a 5,000 square-foot museum and an observatory, with one of the first telescopes in Northwest Ohio.  The basement featured a gymnasium, the origin of the basketball fortunes of the St. John’s Knights.  The college also purchased the Pomeroy Mansion on Huron and Walnut Streets. 


The archivist notes that the school had no food service, so students had to pack a lunch.


The St. John’s building on the corner of Superior and Walnut in central Toledo has since been razed.  The Pomeroy Mansion has been renovated as a bed and breakfast. 

Postcard view of St, John's College building <> accessed 1-25-2017

Pomeroy House <> accessed 1-25-2017


      Team name: Sailors

      Colors: Vermilion Red and Royal Blue


Under coach Al Sacksteder, De Sales became a Sports power from the onset.  The first football team of 1939 went undefeated, winning the Michigan-Ontario Collegiate Conference.  That team defeated St. Mary’s (MI) 44-6, Lawrence Tech 26-0, Assumption (Canada) 14-0, Evansville 7-0, Ferris State 6-0, and Grand Rapids 26-0.  In the last five games, no opponent got inside the De Sales twenty-year line.


Adding three present D-1 schools—Ball State, Central Michigan and St. Francis (PA)—to the schedule, De Sales went 4-4 in 1940, but were co-champions of the MOCC.  Not wishing to continue a relationship with Ferris State, De Sales withdrew from the MOCC.  Reinstated for 1941, they played only one conference game, going 3-3 overall.  


De Sales began playing basketball in December of 1937, going 19-5 in the 1937-38 season.  Using a two-platoon system--the Sailors won the MOAC in 1939-40 with a 15-5 record.  The “Pile Drivers” started each game; the “Wreckers” finished.  Between them, they averaged more than 55 points per game.

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