WILMINGTON — On August 11, 1870, local Quakers purchased 17 ¼ acres of land and an unfinished building for $11,334 at an auction. Their intention was to establish a four-year college dedicated to the ideals espoused by the Society of Friends and the belief that an enlightened society would flourish for the good of humankind.
Thus, Wilmington College was born.
Classes began the following April and, four years later, in 1875, the initial four graduates received their diplomas. Much has occurred over the past 150 years: young lives transformed, lifelong friendships established, knowledge gained for the betterment of society and students prepared to go out and change the world.
The College is observing the 150th anniversary of its founding with programming, commemorations and other special activities running through spring 2021.
While some commemorative activities are already underway, the official launch of the celebration will coincide with WC’s Homecoming in late September with a kick-off event in downtown Wilmington. Main Street will be closed the evening of Sept. 25 for a party worthy of such a milestone with a free concert featuring The Boston Experience and Vinyl Countdown. The former features original members of that legendary 1970s-’80s band.
The College is partnering with the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Wilmington and Main Street Wilmington in putting on that community celebration, which also will include food trucks, Third Friday-style refreshments and a festive atmosphere.
Pausing to appreciate the College’s history is another major element of the observance. A coffee table-size book highlighting WC’s 150 years in being produced, while monthly “Sesquicentennial Moment” stories will be featured in the Wilmington News Journal and on the sesquicentennial page of the College’s website beginning in February.
Also, the College is soliciting alumni and friends to share their favorite Wilmington College stories and special memories for publication on the website and in the College magazine, The LINK. Information on “150 Stories for 150 Years” is available on the sesquicentennial website, www.wilmington.edu/150.
In addition, Wilmington College “Heritage Families” will be designated and highlighted. Families with at least a 100-year affiliation with the College are invited to detail that association with names, dates, photos and tidbits of family history for the College to prepare a story. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
150th anniversary-related exhibits at WC’s Harcum Art Gallery, Peace Resource Center and Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center will be offered during the 150th anniversary. Special evening programs are being planned during the 2020-21 academic year, including one that highlights the College’s historic Quaker affiliation.
The sesquicentennial website at www.wilmington.edu/150 will note all scheduled programming and activities as available.