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Pike College

Bowling Green, Missouri



I have actually been to Bowling Green as a basketball coach--my team was beaten badly there, making such a poor showing that we were not invited back the following year.  The State Historical Society of Missouri has a number of Pike College catalogs.  The Mexico (MO) Ledger and the St. Louis Republic gave some coverage to school events.  The ad is from the Vandalia Herald.


For those wanting something less than a classical education, Pike also offered three-year programs in business, pedagogy, music, art, and elocution.  These led to diplomas and certificates.  


And since newspapers reported that public schools were overcrowded, there was also a two-year preparatory course.


Commencement week featured days set aside for music, declamation, and recitations.  Pike College had two literary societies to prepare students to participate in these activities.  1n 1894 a Pike student named Victor Harlow wrote an original drama entitled "The Contest of the Nation," performed at the annual Entertainment Night.


"Unsurpassed by any school in the West" was the advertising slogan.  Ads always mentioned the 16 experienced teachers  and the fact that $39 would pay for tuition and board for a three month period.


In 1909 William Jennings Bryan spoke in Bowling Green, with proceeds going to Pike College.


Pike College closed in 1922 when the building burned.


Walter Williams describes Pike College as non-sectarian. It was founded in 1881 as Bowling Green College and for a time was known as Pike County College.  Like many small schools of the time (79 students in 1891-92), Pike survived by meeting the needs of a diverse body of students.  It offered three college degrees in its Classical Course--A.B, B.S, and B.L.  These four-year programs were heavy on Latin, Greek, mathematics, rhetoric, literature, logic, botany, astrology and mythology.   B.S. students were allowed to bypass the Greek.  

Pike ad_edited.jpg

Bricks and Mortar

The original building was a two-story frame structure, located on Centennial Avenue.  In addition to classrooms, it contained living quarters for young ladies and a chapel. This building burned in December 1901with no loss of life.  It was replaced in 1902 with a brick structure.   That building also burned in 1922.  At this point Bowling Green school district purchased the property.  The Pike County Historical Society website states that the Bowling Green Junior High School is located on the former college campus.

Pike College Building before the 1901 fire.  Image from the 1892 catalog, courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.


Pike was a very small co-educational school with programs not often associated with sports.  As a result, Pike encountered difficulties fielding competitive teams-- whatever the level of competition.


College Football Data Warehouse shows only two games--blowout losses to neighboring Buchanan College in 1902 and 1906.  Newspapers show another collegiate loss, this to Westminster (MO).  Those newspapers also show losses to local high schools-- Elsberry, Louisiana, Montgomery City, and Missouri Military Academy. 


In 1906 Pike was included in a major scholastic track meet at Mexico, MO.


The school made more sports headlines in 1906 when a young male student  suffered a scalp injury while playing shinny.

The 1900 football team.  Note that the team has only 12 players.  Image from the 1901-02 catalog, courtesy of the State Historical Society of  Missouri.

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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