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Friends University -- Wichita KS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 37° 40.668 W 097° 21.963
14S E 644086 N 4171323
Quick Description: Friends University in Wichita KS is a small but impressive liberal arts college with its roots in a land speculation craze 1880s-style. The Friends University Davis Hall Building is on the National Register.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 5/2/2013 8:22:18 PM
Waymark Code: WMH0N4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 2

Long Description:
Friends University offers undergraduate and graduate-level programs now to students in three cities. Friends University is a pioneer in distance-learning.

From their website: (visit link)

"Although Friends University was officially founded in 1898, its history goes back to the mid-1880s when the Christian Churches of Kansas began to construct a building west of Wichita that would hold more floor space under one roof than any other educational facility west of the Mississippi River.

Garfield University opened its doors for classes in 1887. The University had 500 students enrolled for the first year and 1,070 for the second year. After graduating its first and only senior class, Garfield University closed its doors in 1890 due to financial difficulties. The school was reorganized and opened again in March of 1892 as Garfield Central Memorial University. It closed for good on Nov. 18, 1893.

For five years, the building was a haven for owls, birds and bats until James M. Davis, a businessman from St. Louis, saw an advertisement in a St. Louis paper and purchased the building and surrounding lots. He immediately offered the entire holding to the Kansas Society of Friends (better known as the Quakers) on the condition that the group raise $50,000 for the permanent endowment of the college. The conditions were accepted, and Friends University officially opened its doors in September of 1898. The enrollment for the first fall was 52 students; it would grow to 102 students during the first year.
. . .
Friends University continued operating as a Quaker institution until the 1930s when governance of the school was vested in an independent board of trustees. Since then, the University has continued to operate in an amicable but independent relationship with the Society of Friends.

In 1985, Friends University began offering a new degree completion program for adults wishing to complete their bachelor’s degree while maintaining their busy lives. In 1986, the University received approval to offer two new master’s programs. Two years after degree completion programs began, the University began offering these programs in other locations across Kansas, including Hutchinson, Dodge City and Iola.

In 1989, Friends University opened its first Kansas City site. After 15 years at several different locations (including a secondary site in Independence, Missouri, from 1995 to 2005), the University moved to a new location in Lenexa in 2004. The new location provided additional space and enhanced visibility in the Kansas City area along I-35.

The first Topeka site opened in 1993. The University solidified its commitment to Topeka in 1996 by building a permanent facility in the Mission Woods area.

Throughout its history, Friends University has remained committed to its central core: the arts and sciences. A broad-based education – one that truly expands the horizons and frees the mind – is our purpose for every student. This is also expressed in our commitment to teaching and to the personal growth of every Friends University student.

Friends University has continued to grow and develop over the years. From 52 students in 1898 to approximately 2,800 students today, Friends University is a strong, vital, independent university for Wichita and throughout Kansas." [end]

This road to the successful Friends University of today went through some rough places in the 1880s.

From the book Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... Vol. 1, by Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912 (visit link) some history on the founding of Friends University:

"As early as 1875, the Kansas yearly meeting of Friends expressed a desire to establish a school of collegiate rank, and several Friends academies were organized, but no college. In 1891 the College Association of Friends was organized and a charter secured from the state legislature granting authority to establish and maintain a college. Several thousand dollars' worth of stock had been subscribed, when James M. and Anna T. Davis, of St. Louis, became interested in the movement and gave to the Kansas yearly meeting of Friends, the property at Wichita, formerly owned and occupied by Garfield Memorial University. The gift was accepted, a board of directors was at once appointed, the college opened in Sept., 1898, and the same fall the yearly meeting took upon itself the obligation of maintaining the institution.

The campus consists of 15 acres. The main building is of brick, five stories high, 234 feet long and 200 feet deep. It covers three-fourths of an acre of ground and contains 66 recitation rooms and halls. The main chapel seats 3,000 people. A dormitory known as South Hall provides accommodations for about 50 women, and North Hall is a similar dormitory for men. Besides the regular college course there is the Bible school, school of education, school of music, commercial school and preparatory department. Since the Friends took charge the school has prospered. Edmund Stanley was elected president and he is ably assisted by 16 instructors in the various branches." [end]

Seems innocuous, right? But what about their predecessor institution Garfield University?

From the Lawrence Tribune, excerpts from an article about the shady dealings and speculation schemes surrounding the creation of several universities in Wichita in 1886 -see full article here: (visit link)

"Lawrence Evening Tribune August 4, 1887, page 4

Some Schemes of Enterprising Speculators Which Will be of Interest.
How a "Straw" Railroad Man Made $50,000.

Special Correspondence

WICHITA, July 27. In my last letter I told you the story of the wonderful growth of this town of Wichita; how in sixteen years it has become a city of 3l,000 people and how its development in the past year has surpassed that of every other town in the country. In this letter I wish to describe some of the curious phases of its growth and to give you some of the methods by which the immense amount prairie surrounding it has been sold as city lots.

In the first place, the town went crazy over real estate. Its actual growth was discounted 1,000 per cent, by the hopes of its citizens, and both the incomers and the resident were ready to accept any theory of its great future. Such of them as had the sense to see that this era of speculative values could not last hoped to get out before the boom subsided and property was bought foolishly with the sole expectation of selling at an advance to-morrow. The result of the whole has been that the farm lands within a range of four miles of the center of the town are laid out in lots, hundreds of new additions have been added to the old city limits and the city has taken in the whole six miles square of its township into its boundaries. Real estate signs grow like crops in widely distant fields, and the whole country is cut up into a network of projected motor lines which will lead to Wichita.

I met last night one of the influential men of Wichita, a man who is as well posted on what is going on as any man in it, and it is from his conversation that I give the following incidents of its boom. There is no doubt of the truth of his statements, which were given me on condition that his name should not be connected with them.

"I have been here," said he, "for two years, and have made money. I have kept my eyes open, and there is little that has gone on that I have not seen. We have had a wonderful growth, but we have been crazy during the past year, and all of the world seems to have rushed in to help us. We have had people here from every country of Europe and every part of the United States. The craze commenced the middle of last November and extended to the 1st of April, and during the latter part of it the real estate transfers ran as high as $2,600,000 a week. We gave out 973 licenses to real estate agents, and sold farm lands in lots priced at from $3,000 to $25,000 per acre. The craze is now over, and the citizens say they have stopped buying and gone to building. There is much building going on, but we will do well if we build up our present limits in a decade. Much property has been bought on credit, and the reckoning day is yet to come.”

"How was it possible to create such a boom?"

"I don't know. Our growth, which has jumped from 10,000 to about 32,000 in two years, started it, and the ardor of the speculative American relied on it. Some of the schemes by which lots were sold are worth telling. . . .
* * *
Another way in which Wichita has increased its available building space has been by its colleges, and these schemes are also founded upon real estate speculation. When the town was mad the leading churches of Wichita advertised that they were going to establish great colleges in the new city and asked bids in land and money for the location of the site. The property holders responded liberally, and big buildings are either projected or are going up in a half dozen different parts of the country surrounding. Of course the property about these colleges has become desirable residence property and the colleges have gotten a nice endowment fund from the sale of the lots which they have laid out. The farmers who gave the land have made fortunes from the increase in the value of the property they had left, and it is now a great scheme which seems to make everybody richer and to hurt no one.

The first of these colleges was Garfield University, founded by the Christian church. It has a big brick building half up and has received, I understand, an additional endowment of $100,000 from the church outside of Wichita. It was given here about 300 acres of land. It reserved some for itself and plotted the rest. It has sold over $200,000 worth of lots and has yet three-fifths of its land left. The German Reformed church was in this same way given $200,000 worth of land. The Baptist church got $155,000 worth of land for the location of the Judson University and they have already begun to build. The Presbyterians got $300,000 worth of land for a university which they propose to build east of the city, and the Quakers received $150,000 worth for the John Bright university in the western part of the town. Then there is an institution being built which is, it is hoped, to be the Vassar of the west, and all told this new town has enough educational waste land cut to educate all the west. All of these institutions have sold lots and all have acquired nice endowments in money from their sale." [end]

When the real-estate speculation bubble burst, Garfield University soon found itself in some difficulty:

Garfield University.—The idea of erecting a university in memory of President Garfield originated with W. B. Hendryx, a personal friend of Mr. Garfield. There seemed to be no opportunity for establishing such a school in the east, so Mr. Hendryx came to Kansas and after some consideration the matter was taken up by the Christian church. The college committee . . . believed $100,000 could be secured for the location of the college, if the committee could guarantee that the church would raise an additional $100,000

Of the several locations considered, Wichita was chosen. That city named, organized and chartered Garfield University, with a board of nine directors, and secured options on desirable college sites. On May 29, 1887, a contract was signed by the directors and the college committee, by the terms of which the board was to erect a university building on a 23 acre campus in the southwest part of the city, the building to cost not less than $75,000, nor more than $100,000. Instead of following the original plan, work was begun on a five-story building, covering three-fourths of an acre of ground, and in the second report of the committee this statement is found; "It is now certain that the building will cost not less than $200,000."
. . . .
In the meantime the Wichita "boom" began to decline, property values decreased, and the land belonging to the university could not be sold without great sacrifice, which meant ruin to the institution. A mortgage of $65,000 was placed on the building and grounds, but the business depression continued and at the close of 1890 the university had no funds to continue its work. The university, therefore, closed its doors after three years . . ." [end]
Name: Friends University

2100 W. University Blvd
Wichita, KS

Phone Number: 316-295-5000

Web Site: [Web Link]

Type of School: Undergraduate School with Graduate Programs

School Affiliation: Private -- Independent

Date Founded: 1898

Enrollment: 2800

Nicknames/Mascots: Friends Univesity Falcons -- mascot Freddy the Falcon

School Colors: Scarlet and grey

Location of GPS Coordinates: Davis Hall

School Motto: Not listed

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Benchmark Blasterz visited Friends University -- Wichita KS 3/16/2013 Benchmark Blasterz visited it