Bald eagles have been spotted on our campus recently. That should be no surprise…we are the McDonogh Eagles after all. The photographs that have been taken have generated excitement and joy at seeing these majestic birds up close. I started thinking about a time when the duck pond on our campus was a “happening” place where wild birds were kept and protected under the watchful eye of Mr. A. Ogden Ramsay (faculty 1927-1971).
As reported in the February 24, 1950 issue of The Week, “the duck pond roster has recently been greatly enlarged, some wild birds being paid for with the proceeds of the Christmas sale of about $200 worth of domestic fowl, and others being donated…among them two Blue geese and two Snow geese…”
The duck pond is still a part of our campus. Could it be possible that relatives of the geese and the many wild birds donated to Mr. Ramsay, return to their “home” pond year after year? Why don’t you take a walk down by the pond to find out?
This month, McDonogh has seen little snow and few days cold enough to produce ice on a nearby pond. But a different scene is described in The Week dated January 3, 1885. On this particular day, the boys returned from their Christmas holiday to find that the farm hands had cut and hauled the five inch thick ice to the ice house to be stored. A chore usually performed by the “boys”.
This is the first winter since I have been here that the boys have not helped with the ice; it is a much hated job to them for their principal part is to throw the large lumps into the wagon, and this cuts their hands and makes them very cold. Formerly some of the larger boys were entrusted with the job of cutting the large blocks of ice with axes , but this year the men sawed them with a large crosscut saw.”
The Week, January 3, 1885
Recently, we gathered around the monument to remember John McDonogh in the way he had wished by planting flowers on his grave. This same monument had been erected in 1865 and placed over the grave of John McDonogh in the beautiful Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore City. Each Founder’s Day the entire student body and faculty would make the pilgrimage to the monument in order to lay flowers at the grave. They would travel first by train, which included a walk from Union Station (Pennsylvania Station), and later by school bus. In 1945, the remains of John McDonogh and the monument were moved to the McDonogh School campus.
Today workers uncovered the original foundation of McDonogh's Main Building, an expansive brick structure constructed in 1883 and destroyed by fire in 1928. They made the discovery while digging to expose underground pipes needing repair.
Read all about the discovery of the foundation of Old Main in the late summer of 2009.
The McDonogh Seal, seen here, was designed by long-time faculty member G. Hall Duncan. Mr. Duncan taught at McDonogh from 1926 through 1942 and again after World War II from 1946 through 1947. The Seal was drawn in 1930 and continues to this day as a symbol of McDonogh. Of course, it can be seen on each student's blazer, displayed in the Memorial Field House, the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Athletic Center and many other places on campus.
Its description is as follows - Around the outside are the school's name and the founding date of 1873. The eagle, representative of the nation, and the flag of Maryland are prominently displayed, along with farm utensils that remind us of our school farm beginnings. The stars each symbolize the six virtues mentioned in a poem written by Eustace S. Glascock, McDonogh 1879, entitled The McDonogh Uniform. They are Labor, Patience, Wisdom, Love, Honor and Truth.
E. Carey Kenney, a McDonogh faculty member from 1947 through 1980, will be honored by the Alumni Association with a Distinguished Service Award during Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Colonel Kenney came to McDonogh after serving as an infantry officer in Italy in World War II. He was head of the art department until his retirement, and continued to manage the Tuttle Gallery for several more years. Many of his paintings are hanging in various locations around campus: murals in the Memorial Field House, the large panels in the Osborne Room, portraits of McDonogh notables, landscapes of campus, and pen and inks of many McDonogh subjects, all of which he lovingly produced over his many years here.
He will be given his award on Saturday morning, May 3, while alumni are gathered in Tagart Chapel for the annual alumni memorial service and the state of the school address by the headmaster. Your attendance is encouraged.
Tradition holds when it comes to many things at McDonogh and, for sure, when it comes to the first sighting of snow in a season. Students’ thoughts immediately go to Chapel Hill. This has ever been true. The Chapel was built in 1899 and in the February 24, 1900 edition of The Week the following account is given:
Some boys, wishing to get the full benefit of [the snow] took their sleds and double-deckers to the hill near the chapel and enjoyed themselves as best they could. Going down the hill they pitched head first into the drifts, but calmly got up and tried it over again.
Chapel Hill has long held the thrill of a snowy winter’s day, gliding down on sleds, one after the other.
The year was 1914, the date October 12 and McDonogh opposed Gilman in football for the first time. We lost 35 to 0; it was not an auspicious beginning. Our boys were outweighed 148 pounds to 133 pounds. With the exception of 1916 (unable to get it scheduled) and 1918 (due to the Spanish Flu), the contest has been yearly. McDonogh was unable to win for many years. Our luck changed in 1927. After thirteen defeats in a row, McDonogh finally won their first game against Gilman 6 to 0.
From the scrapbook given to McDonogh by Len Lewis, class of 1927, here is a photograph of that game. The winning ball resides in the Archives.
As McDonogh starts its 135th school year, the Archives begins a yearly job of entering each new student in the Registry Book. The first student to be written into the book this year will carry the student number 16,460 and, as always, they will be listed alphabetically. The student numbers include every student whoever attended McDonogh, whether they graduated or not and is a complete history of the student population starting with student number one in 1873.
His name was John Baker and is pictured here. He was born January 12, 1864 and entered McDonogh November 21, 1873 just shy of 10-years-old. We are fortunate to have his photograph, especially since he’s dressed in the school’s first uniform. The uniform took many forms over the years until the semi-military program was ended in 1971.
Reported in The Week July 6, 1907 —
Swimming has now struck the fancy of all the boys. Warm weather has come, and we hope it will stay. Our swimming place is not very large, but large enough for all the boys to get in at one time. We have to walk about half a mile from the school to the swimming place, and therefore we get very warm.The boys take great interest in swimming and nearly every day you may see about fifty boys going to the swimming place to take a good swim. We have two diving boards, and sometimes a boy puts up a rope to swing on. Boys catch hold of the rope, and swing from the bank far out into the water. In this way they have a great deal of fun....
Summer had arrived at McDonogh one hundred years ago. The photograph, circa 1920, gives us a look at what swimming looked like; a far cry and a century from our Henry A. Rosenberg, Jr. Aquatic Center.
I wish you good swimming and a relaxed and enjoyable summer.
Alumni Weekend will be celebrated April 27-28. On display in the Archives is this photograph taken July 4, 1887, the earliest alumni group photo in our collection. Most of the notables of the day are pictured. – on chairs left to right - Duncan Campbell Lyle, the second principal, David L. Bartlett, a Board member, Samuel Tagart, President of the Board of Trustees when the school was founded, Colonel William Allan, the school’s first principal, and many of the “boys” who had entered the school on that founding day November 21, 1873. Even Mr. Lyle’s dog Jet is seen laying in front of the group.
These reunions have been held each year and the earlier gatherings are documented in the school's newspaper The Week. This particular reunion was remembered in the paper as follows:
On the 4th J. W. Riley, one of our alumni, paid us a visit. He brought with him a photographer from Richard Walzl’s establishment. After dinner was over, Riley collected the members of the alumni together, and they with Mr. Tagart, Mr. Bartlett, Colonel Allan, and Mr. Lyle had their photograph taken. The four gentlemen named sat on chairs, a few of the alumni sat at their feet, while most of them stood behind the chairs.
Any person wanting to obtain any of these pictures may do so by applying at Richard Walzl’s photograph gallery, on Baltimore Street. The picture of the alumni will cost seventy-five cents.
The account also describes the school boys meeting the train that brought the “old boys” from Baltimore as follows:
The boys dressed in their Sunday clothes and marched to the station in two companies to escort the old boys from the station to the house. We drew up in line before the track, and when the train came up Pattison fired off a gun which we had brought along for the occasion. Hauer then gave the signal for cheering the old boys, and the cheers were given with a hearty good will, while a cheer for the new boys was returned by the old boys. The companies then escorted the old boys up from the station, the little company marching in front and the big company bringing up the rear. After mutual greetings we repaired to the school room, where a speech of welcome to the old boys was given by Colonel Allan. After this all were dismissed to do as they pleased, most of them visiting old haunts, going swimming, and playing baseball.
That day was 120 years ago but can be vividly envisioned because of the thorough description supplied by the boys who worked in the newspaper printing office. Their words make this very old photograph come alive.
As the Board of Trustees creates a fifty-year master plan for McDonogh's campus, the first aerial view of the school becomes even more meaningful. Taken in 1926, it shows a substantial section of the 835 acres of the property. The structures pictured remaining on campus today are the Tagart Memorial Chapel, Bowman House, and two small houses visible above the main building. These two houses were moved to Woods Road in the 1940s to make way for Memorial Court.
The main drive appears white due to the fact that the road surface was made up of oyster shells, which is why the road today is called Shell Road. Going clockwise from the Chapel, the buildings are Moreland Cottage (replaced by Elderkin Hall), Main House (consumed by fire in 1928 and replaced by Allan Building), and Edwards Gym (demolished to make way for the Burck Center). All the buildings towards the top right of the photograph no longer exist, including the largest building visible, the first Jane Bay, torn down when Rollins Hall, the new Jane Bay Hall, and Keelty Hall (formerly South Hall) were built.
No tennis courts, no John McDonogh Stadium, but loads of open land that was home to the "school farm" that John McDonogh envisioned. The student body in 1926 was 170 students who were required to work the land. Eighty years later, the school and the campus are still evolving and will continue to do so.
Wouldn’t you like to see the plane from which this shot was taken?