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Leander Clark College

Toledo, Iowa




I came to Toledo from Marshalltown on a Tuesday morning in October.  Arriving two hours before the library opened, I decided to visit the old Leander Clark campus, now the Iowa Juvenile Home/Girls State Training School.  After presenting identification and describing my purpose, I was given an identification badge and invited to wander the grounds to photograph any of the old buildings.  Helpful staff members identified two cottages that may have been a part of the old campus.  A photo of Roberts Cottage is shown below.  The Iowa History Museum has the entire collection of Cardinal yearbooks (1910-18), giving me a choice of photos.


Leander Clark College was founded by the United Brethren Church as Western College in 1857.  Initially located in Linn County, it relocated to Toledo in 1881 after Toledo citizens pledged $20,000 for its support.  In Toledo the college grew to 400 students.  In 1903 Western College promised to give naming rights to any person who would donate $50,000 to start an endowment fund.  Major Leander Clark gave the money on the condition that the school would raise an additional $100,000.  In 1906 the school was named Leander Clark College in his honor.   


The 1916 Cardinal shows a student body of fewer than 100.  These included 13 Seniors, 12 Juniors, 18 Sophomores, 18 Freshmen and 27 preparatory students.  Included in these totals were students in the conservatory of music and those in the normal, commercial, and home economics departments.


Leander Clark sponsored four literary societies—Calliopean, Young Ladies’ Athenaeum, Philophroneum, and Young Men’s Institute.  With a conservatory of music, Leander Clark had both men’s and women’s glee clubs. Both presented concerts around the region. Student publications included the Cardinal and the Leander Clark Record, a student newspaper.  As a church sponsored school, Leander Clark had chapters of the Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., and the Volunteer Band, a missionary support group.  Major school events included May Day and joint literary society picnics—Callie and Philo, Y.L.A. and Y.M.I. 


Despite the Clark gift and another $50,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie, Leander Clark College went bankrupt, before transferring records and its endowment to Coe College in 1919.

Bricks and Mortar

Main Building at Leander Clark was a three-story brick structure.  Rebuilt after an 1889 fire, by 1910 it was surrounded by Bright Conservatory; Beatty Hall, a dormitory; the College Church; and a gymnasium.  Through the years all of those buildings have been razed.


(left) Roberts Cottage at Iowa Juvenile Home/Girls State Training School may have been part of the old Leander Clark campus.   Latest report is that the cottages are scheduled to be razed.


        Team name and Colors: Cardinal


The Cardinal shows that L.C.C. fielded teams in football, basketball and baseball.  Coe College was a yearly opponent.  Other Iowa schools that often appeared on the L.C.C. schedule were Grinnell, William Penn, Iowa State Teachers (Northern Iowa), Highland Park, Simpson, Cornell, Drake, and Lenox. 


The 1914 team defeated Highland Park and Grinnell while losing to Drake, Simpson, Coe, and Cornell for a 2-4 record.


L.C.C. apparently played women’s basketball—at least in 1914. 



1914 football captains (1915 Cardinal, Courtesy of Iowa History Museum)

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