Fremont County, Iowa

Tabor View
By Catherine Grace Barbour Farquhar

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of April 12, 2010

As has already been noted, Tabor college was started as an Academy (high school level studies) in 1855. By 1866 it had moved into college level courses including classical, scientific and literary levels. During the Civil War many of the young men who would have been students were drafted into battle--the college attendance declined, then came back following the war. During World War l the same thing happened, and the academy part of the school was closed in 1922. Various attempts were made to keep the college alive but money became the big issue and in 1927 at the graduating ceremony the announcement was made that the college would not open in the fall.

In 1935 the Rev. Clark Howard, a Methodist minister who had been the pastor in the Methodist church in Sidney, Iowa, moved to Tabor and tried to revive the college. Howard had been injured severely in the first World War and while he was recovering he vowed to find some way to repay the gift of life he had received. Getting the college up and running to help poverty stricken and under privileged students was the place he wanted to achieve that goal. Buildings at the school had fallen into disrepair so that was the first task.

It was the depth of the depression and Howard's purpose was to provide a school where students could come and work on the farm owned by the college to earn money for their school expenses. A recently purchased land provided the place where the students milked cows, raised livestock and crops in return for their tuition, room and board.

Howard solicited money from Legion groups. The Sidney Legion gave the first contribution of $600, and others followed suit. It was a noble experiment.

But gradually the problems of the school became greater than the Rev. Howard could overcome. Contributions to keep the school open lessened and it eventually closed its doors forever.

Today, Woods Hall, built in 1869, has been torn down. Gaston Hall, the beautiful building with a tower, built in 1887 was taken down about 1950. Adams Hall, built in 1898, that housed German prisoners of war for a while in 1945 during World War II, served as the Tabor Grade School in the 1960s after the original grade building was destroyed by fire. It has for many years been an apartment house and is occupied as such at this time. A chapel built in 1861 and also a gymnasium are now gone and new homes have been built on the site.

The Music Hall, built in 1878, was purchased by the Tabor Historical Society in 2001 to expand their museum space. On display in the Music Hall are Tabor College documents and memorabilia, a college band tuba and uniform and copies of the Tabor College yearbook, The Cardinal. Here the spirit and the history of the school remain. It will not be forgotten.

This Attic information was taken with permission, from the book "Tabor and Tabor College" written by Catherine Grace Barbour Farquhar. It is currently available for purchase from the Todd House, The Todd House is located in Tabor, Iowa on Park Street.

It is open to the public by appointment. Call (712)629-2675 for more information. (Material on current status of buildings from Pat Claiborne) 

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Page updated on June 22, 2023 by Karyn Techau