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Northwestern College

Watertown, Wisconsin



The HathiTrust has placed the digital copies of five early years of the Black and Red, a student publication, online.  This publication carries campus news of the various Northwestern College organizations as well as graduation lists and photos of campus groups.  The Watertown Historical Society has provided a timeline of the history of the school.  The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod also has an online archive of Northwestern College.  Northwestern alumni are active on Facebook with photos from the school’s history.


Theological Seminary of the Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church opened at Watertown in the fall of 1863.  Wisconsin University was founded two years later.   The four departments which made up Wisconsin University were liberal arts, normal, theological and commercial.  The theological seminary was removed to St. Louis, MO in 1870, and the normal school to New Ulm, MN in the 1890’s.  Wisconsin University became Northwestern University in 1878 and Northwestern College in 1908.  By 1918, the Black and Red advertised Northwestern College’s three departments as collegiate, preparatory and commercial.


The main building—the Kaffeemuehle—burned in 1894, but the school prospered.  By 1905 when a new dormitory was built, the enrollment reached 300.  The student body was overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly German. Some portions of the Black and Red are written in German.   The 1917 and 1918 graduation classes each totaled 16 -17, with another dozen graduating from the commercial program.  Several of the commercial graduates were female.  Under “Societies” the Black and Red listed four: music, turnverein, literary, and military company.  Northwestern had a chorus, a band and an orchestra.  In addition to supporting the literary and military societies, the musical groups did an annual concert.  Beta Rho literary society sponsored both essay writing and declamation.  The Turnverein was a gymnastics society.  The military society did weekly drills and performed an annual sham battle.


In 1993 the Synod voted to merge campuses.  Northwestern College and Dr. Martin Luther College of New Ulm, MN were combined at New Ulm.  Northwestern Prep and Dr. Martin Luther Prep from Prairie du Chen, WI were combined at Watertown.  This merger was effected in the fall of 1995.

Bricks and Mortar

Following the loss of the Kaffeemuehle, Northwestern added three buildings: a dormitory in 1905, the University Building in 1908 and the Gymnasium/auditorium in 1912.


Luther Prep now occupies the Northwestern College Campus.  The campus is a tight forty-acre plot on the highest point in Watertown.  At the time of the merger, the campus was relatively new with only one old building remaining—the gymnasium/auditorium.  The Campus Center—administration, classrooms, library—has a portion dating to 1950.  The present gymnasium is vintage 1971.  The north part of the campus has football, baseball, softball, soccer and track fields. 



A Facebook photo of the "Old Gymnasium" in 1914.  This building is still in use by Luther Prep. (<>)


            Team name—Black and Red, Goslings, Trojans

            Colors: Black and Red


The online archive of Northwestern College notes that in addition to the regular football-basketball-baseball programs, the school sponsored competition in soccer, tennis, golf, wrestling, track and cross country.


The timeline for Northwestern College shows that the first football game was in 1894.  College Football Data Warehouse shows teams from 1899.  As a small school, Northwestern was not especially successful in football except for a stretch 1950-56, when teams lost only two games and had five Badger-Illini Conference championships.  The 1978 team won the Midwest Athletic Collegiate Conference title, and the 1993 team had a 7-1 record.

(Right) Facebook photo of one of the “stars” of the 1906 team.  Note the fit of the helmet, the presence of shin guards, and the fatness of the ball.  His team defeated Carroll, drew with Marquette, and lost to Lawrence, Oshkosh and Ripon. (<>)

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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