‘Seymour,’ ‘Post,’ ‘George Davis’ — buildings students pass through, pass by, live, work and spend time in on a daily basis. That is what these names are to students now, but once they belonged to individuals who, in some way, added to Knox as students conceive of it now.
Professor of Philosophy Lance Factor noted that preserving such a history allows us to “understand the situation that leads to the creation of buildings. The historical narrative is the way to place things that [donors, faculty, students] do,” he said.
Janet Greig Post 1894, whose name Post Hall bears, was connected with Knox as a student, dean of women and its first female trustee. According to Factor, she was “instrumental” in saving Old Main from destruction — in the middle of the Depression, she raised over $200,000 “almost single-handedly” to restore the inside of the building.
Similarly, Seymour Union, a central structure on campus, bears the name of Lyman Kay Seymour, who attended Knox from 1882 through 1884 with his two brothers. Upon his death in 1919, his wife made the donation that funded the all-male dormitory.
Meanwhile, George Davis Hall gets its name from George Davis, treasurer at Knox from 1875 to 1890; his daughter and son-in-law contributed substantially to the endowment campaign that led to the creation of the hall.
Meanwhile, the Quads feature buildings named after an array of professors who taught at Knox between the late 1800s and the late 1950s. Their subject areas ranged from physics to comparative literature, philosophy, Latin, biology and history. They are remembered as warm, honest, intellectually adventurous, gracious men with an earnest desire to help wherever possible.
Among them was Aladine “Foxy” Longden, who worked at Knox from 1901 through 1926 as a professor of physics. He is remembered in Knox’s Fifty-Year Club Bulletin as a “capable and devoted teacher … so conscientious that he gave the impression of giving himself along with his work.”
Also noteworthy is William Prentiss Drew, a professor of Latin at Knox from 1906 till hvis death in 1930. Drew ran for Galesburg mayor in 1921 and sent all of his sons and daughters to Knox. For a period of five years, he also served as pastor for the East Main Street Congregational Church of Galesburg.
Then there was William Longstreth Raub, who taught philosophy from 1902 to 1933 and secured a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Knox. He was known for his idealism, becoming famous for his five-hour course on idealistic philosophy.
Speaking with a fondness for Knox’s old buildings, Factor mused that Janet Post “was conscious of the fact that … there’s a deeper sense of the history here, of the founders and what the founders were trying to do … a strong sense of legacy, [while] not all schools even remotely have a sense that they have a past.”