The 1971 Hoopston Centennial booklet has a short history of Greer College. The seal is from the Murad series.
Benefactor John Greer gave funds and land to create a college to provide the educational opportunities that had been denied him in his youth. Greer College accepted students at whatever educational place they were and provided programs so that they could achieve their career goals. The college offered two-year courses in commercial work, stenography, civil service, elocution, and penmanship. It had four-year preparatory, normal, and music courses. It offered Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Literature, and Bachelor of Science degrees.
Greer College opened in fall 1891 with 120 students in various programs. The Illinois Blue Book shows 275 students in 1907. Sixteen students earned Bachelor’s degrees in 1904. By 1911 the alumni association counted 439 members.
Greer College was nonsectarian; students and faculty represented all of the different denominations. However, students “were advised” to attend a church service each week. The school had chapters of both the YMCA and YWCA, with most students being members. Faculty members all were workers in their respective churches. Greer College had two literary societies—Olympian for men and Vesperian for women. These provided the training in reading, writing, and speaking that allowed students to achieve success later in life.
Greer College experienced financial difficulties. A 1914 notice in the Elkhart Daily Review stated that limited endowments “make it impossible to continue further the plans of the founder.” As a result the trustees turned the institution over to the city for a high school building. Some sources say that the college continued until 1926; however, a 1921 Vermillion County circuit court report refers to the “defunct Greer College.”
Bricks and Mortar
Advertisements show that Hoopeston, “only 99 miles from Chicago,” had “No saloons. Churches of all the leading denominations.” and “Healthful country air.”
John Greer provided $40,000 and 500 acres of land to build and furnish the college. It was located at Hoopeston, a small town in Eastern Illinois, only six miles from the Indiana state line. Described as a “magnificent specimen of modern architecture,” the main building was on high grounds with a sloping lawn, providing a good view of the town. It was built of St. Louis pressed brick with cut stone trim. It featured steam heat and electric lights. It contained an auditorium which seated 700. In addition, Greer’s funds furnished the school with the latest laboratory equipment, library materials, and commercial machines.
After the college closed, the building served as the high school until 1956 and as a grade school until 1969. It was razed in March 1969.
(Above)Greer College Main Building (Don Harrison,
Colors: The Murad advertisement suggests that the colors are likely red and gold
We have limited information on Greer College athletics. The first reference in 1896 shows a baseball series between the “college boys” and Rossville. In that same year, Greer played football against Purdue and Illinois Normal, losing both. Later football results included a 73-0 loss to Purdue in 1902 and a 6-0 loss to Illinois Wesleyan in 1907.
Since a student died from over exertion following a “practice run” in 1911, this might suggest that Greer College had a track team.