At the beginning of this research, I attempted to negotiate materials on Gooding College. Few schools have been so well covered by area newspapers as Gooding. In the early years articles appeared almost daily. Some materials are available on the Internet sponsored by the Gooding Historical Society. Yearbooks are at the Idaho Historical Society and Gooding Public Library.
Gooding College was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church with donations from Governor Frank Gooding and the town of Gooding. Early references show that the necessary $400,000 had been raised, so that building could begin. Fund raising became a constant theme in school news.
Gooding College set out to meet various needs of what it called the Inland Empire. It offered night classes and summer school for those whose schedule would not allow the regular school schedule. It also offered commercial classes for those seeking immediate practical skills. Above all, it instituted what it called Rural Life Seminars of up to three weeks in the fall to help residents deal with problems of sociology, economics, etc.
It reached a peak enrollment of 209 in 1928. The only degree offered was a B.A. Students worked in three tracks—those who were trying to finish high school; those who were taking fewer than 12 hours of college work, and those taking 12 or more hours.
Gooding College quickly made a name for itself in the arts. Its glee club went on tour in 1919. Also in 1919 it staged its first intercollegiate debate against Albion State. By 1920 it had become Southern Idaho Conference debate champions and had teams participating in public speaking. And in addition to drama and musical programs, Gooding put out two school newspapers and a yearbook. As a Methodist school, Gooding College had chapters of the YMCA and YWCA. News of the Epworth League figured prominently in newspaper coverage of Gooding.
(Above) Newspaper and Yearbook staff (1927 Sagebrush Echo.Courtesy of Gooding Public Library)
Because of financial problems the school closed in 1938.
Bricks and Mortar
The main building was not ready for occupancy until late November of 1917. This was a two-story buff-colored brick building, containing sleeping rooms on the upper floor; classrooms, offices, the library and laboratory on the ground floor; the basement contained an auditorium, music room and dining facilities. A second, matching building was added in 1920. It also was a combination of dormitory and classrooms.
When the college closed, the property reverted to the Pensions Board of the Idaho Conference of the Methodist Church. In 1941 the campus passed to the state to create the Idaho Tuberculosis Hospital, and a modern building was added between the two older ones. In 1983 the campus went on the National Register of Historical Places. At that time it was listed as vacant. The 1920 Building, the last remaining building, has since been renovated as the Get Inn. Since the owners report Mysterious noises and events, the building has attracted paranormal seekers.
(Above) The 1920 building. Photographed by Patricia Wright in 1980 for the National Register application.
(<history.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/Gooding_College_Campus_83000286.pdf>) accessed 11-15-2017
Team name: Bobcats
Colors: Purple and White
Gooding College became a member of the Southern Idaho Intercollegiate Conference along with Albion Normal, College of Idaho, Pocatello Technical, and Ricks. However, their schedule early on included high school opponents as well as independent teams such as Jerome American Legion. In later years teams ventured into Oregon.
They played baseball as early as 1918 and began football in 1919, losing to College of Idaho 26-0 in their first collegiate game. The 1920 team lost to College of Idaho 90-0 and 20-0, twice defeated Jerome American Legion, lost to Pocatello Tech 6-0 and defeated Ricks.