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Waterloo Business College

Waterloo, Iowa


Travel and E-Travel

I stayed at Waterloo while attending a conference at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls across the river.  The 1915 History of Black Hawk County and its People outlines the early history of Waterloo Business College.  The Iowa State Gazetteer and Business Directory carried advertisements for the school.  Enrollment statistics appear in the U.S. Office of Education Bulletin. The logo shown right is from the Gazetteer.


History notes that Waterloo College, an academic institution, was founded in 1884.  Waterloo Business College was founded two years later.  These were consolidated in 1890.  After several ownership changes, the school was incorporated as Waterloo Business College in 1900 under the direction of Almon F. Gates. 


The Gazetteer shows a number of advertising slogans: These included the following: “The School That Gets Positions”; “A Good Paying Position For Every Graduate”; “Secure Employment As Soon As You Can Do the Work.”   


The 1915 Gazetteer shows the following programs: “Stenotypy, Shorthand, Commercial, Bankers, Farmers, Preparatory, Combined, Complete, Teachers, Business Managers.” Other years show a Professional Penmanship course.


The History states that W.B.C. had 170 students by 1905.  The 1918-19 enrollment statistics show 250 students in the ten-week commercial course, 304 students in the eight-week shorthand course, and 107 students in the combined course.  Students paid $13 per week for each course.


When Gates died in 1933, his son Bruce became the director of the school and purchased it outright in 1946.  In 1933 Bruce Gates noted that establishing numerous contacts within the community was essential for the operator of a successful business college.  Newspapers show that both father and son appeared frequently as public speakers.


In 1951 school ownership passed to Gladice and Stuart Sears, who incorporated it in 1963 as Gates Waterloo Business College.


After 89 years, the school closed in 1973, with some classes being taken over by Hawkeye Technical College.

Bricks and Mortar

Following a January 1904 fire which destroyed the building, Waterloo Business College moved into the “magnificent new Syndicate Block” at the end of the 4th Street Bridge.  W.B.C. occupied the fifth floor.  According to the 1905 Gazetteer advertisement, “Our rooms have been pronounced by competent judges to be the best in the state.”    


At a later date the school moved a few blocks to 209 W. Park Street.  In 1975 that building was  razed to make way for the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center .


A sketch of  the Syndicate Block building.  It had "every modern convenience--electric lights, steam heat, elevator."  Image is from the Gazetteer;view=1up;seq=1350  last accessed 12-6-2017

The 1929-30 Waterloo Business College basketball team.  Image from  last accessed 12-6-2017


College football Data Warehouse lists two games in 1894 and 1902, both losses to Omaha Y.M.C.A. and to Yankton College.  While enrollment figures show a majority of male students, a sports program would have been difficult given the short term courses of study.


Apparently, W.B.C. fielded a basketball team in at least some years.  In November 1911 Council Bluffs newspapers reported that W.B.C. was part of the schedule of the Charles City College team.  A photo of the 1929-30 team is included in the IAGenWeb  project.


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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