From the earliest days in the mid 1930s, when the Outing Club was just a dream of Miss Esther Post and Dr. Ed Kase, it was assumed that an "Outing Club Cabin" would be the focus of club activities and the glue that bound us together. For over 60 years, students and alumni have enjoyed our cabin.
It is difficult to condense 60 years of history into a few paragraphs or pages, but some history we believe will enhance you enjoyment of the cabin and property.
The GCC Outing Club started as a dream of Miss Esther Post back about 1934 or 35 when she was Dean of Women. She had observed very successful 'outing clubs' at various other colleges including nearby Allegheny College in Meadville and as far away as Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. In a time when few students owned a car, the country was battling the Great Depression, and trains were the preferred method of travel, outing clubs offered an affordable way to enjoy the outdoors. There was even a group called IOCA, the Inter-collegiate Outing Club Association that held annual gatherings.
Initial response to the idea of an Outing Club by the administration can be described as dismal. Dr. Ketler was not a fan of the idea at all. However, Miss Post found a ready ally in Doc Kase who had started traveling to Algonquin Park on a regular basis. Ultimately after Doc returned to Grove City from getting his DD at Princeton, they prevailed. Perhaps having both a Dean and the college Chaplain on the team is what it took.
The Outing Club was officially started and immediately the discussion turned to the need for a "cabin". Doc wanted a convenient location near to campus and a two story structure to save building cost and to facilitate heating. The very discussion of a cabin with the administration apparently was very interesting as Doc told it.
Ultimately the Trustees authorized a search for suitable properties pretty much to no avail. Finally, one of the trustees offered the use of some property that he owned near the unincorporated village of Pearl about 15 miles from campus. Our property today was part of that parcel. This property offered reasonable proximity to GCC, a spring reported to never go dry(and it has not in the last 61 years) and favorable lease terms.
The site of our cabin has a long history. Situated on the "old Kennerdale Road" it witnessed the transformation of the local area from a strictly agrarian economy to one based on the early iron industry and later the oil industry. The old roadway is actually the two paths coming straight down the hill and show clearly on 1900 era topographic maps. A local family named Paden for over 100 years owned this land. A barn sat where the cabin is and just above the spring sat a house on a stone foundation. Some foundations stones can still be seen. The late Glen Paden a neighbor and friend for many years up on Dewoody Road until recently, reported that his great-grandfather built the house with his income from hauling oak rails to the iron furnace on Bullion Run for making charcoal.
After much discussion and over Doc's objections the College carpenters started construction of a building shaped like a traditional Presbyterian church using a cross configuration. That was started in the Fall of 1938, and completing construction in the Spring of 1939. The building was completed for a reported $7500 using only hand tools.
Although we are blessed with several design features such as the solid pine wall paneling, no one expected the club to last very long and hence many short cuts were also taken, such as no foundation footer!
Doc's mother furnished the cabin with all of the furniture, tables, bunks, blankets etc. for the princely sum of $2500.
Through the early 40's the club prospered and grew despite W.W.II, gas rationing, and 600 sailors stationed on campus. The club purchased the first of several truck to allow group travel and learned how to hoard gas coupons in an era of rationing. Doc Kase was even chastised by Dr. Ketler for selecting peculiar hymns one time, when secretly he was updating the balance in the truck fund each morning at chapel through the hymn number preceding the sermon. The club also lost several early members in the war and memorialized them with the outdoor fireplace and a plaque in the living room.
Although Doc Kase moved on to Wilson and Western Colleges founding a sister club while at Wilson, the club generally prospered and grew throughout the late 40's and into the early 50's.
By the late 50's, while the club was in a periodic down cycle, the GCCOC Alumni Association was born through the efforts of Bill Goucher x48 and others.
The Alumni got their first real test about 1958 when the trustee who owned the original property passed away. Must to Bill's chagrin, what was thought to be a 99 year lease, was declared to be an expired 20 year lease. At that point in time the entire parcel of over 1000 acres was for sale and offered to the college. This parcel is basically all of the game lands all of the parklands and all of the state forest, plus our land!
The college not wanting to be a landowner declined the offer. While something like $12,000 is not much today, the Alumni did not have that kind of money in 1958.
Bill managed to keep us going while the land changed hands at least once, and extensive selective logging was done all around us.
Ultimately the PA Game Commission was about to purchase the entire parcel, and that would have been the end of the cabin. Bill and this early nucleus of the Alumni Association managed to purchase our 19.6 acres after skillful negotiations. While we managed to save the cabin, there are many strings attached to the sale that are still in effect today. Included are restrictions of use, sale, logging, new construction, you name it. It runs several pages.
Throughout the 60's the club was strong and traveled widely including the first trip in over a decade to PrinGrove, Doc Kase's cottage located in Algonquin Park and all the way to Yellowstone Park riding on the wood benches found today in the living room. The Alumni continued as a small, close support group with no real funds and an aging cabin.
The 70's brought Vietnam and a club in transition. Building repairs became an annual task, and one year the dining room broke off from the main room under the weight of a Boy Scout troop.
By 1973 the club was down to less than a dozen active students and the alumni file box had roughly 50 index cards in it. 1974 brought resurgence in the club and in the next 4 years student membership soared to nearly 100. The first of nearly 40 trips to PrinGrove over the next two decades was taken in the Summer of 75. The GCC concession stand was acquired as an on going fundraiser for the actives.
In 1976, the first major alumni-student joint activity resulted in the first complete new roof since 1938. Data base work for this project and planning for the 40th reunion in 1978 provided the alumni organization with new members and for the first time a real bank balance. The Goucher Fund was started to honor Bill's work with the alumni.
The 80's saw generally strong student clubs and with many major repair projects to the cabin with a value of well over $20,000.
These projects included repairs to the women's wing floor, new heaters, foundations under the men's wing and living room, piers under the kitchen, new kitchen floor, new stoves and fridges, new gas lights, new pump line to the spring, footer drains, yard drains, a new wood shed and a new back porch. The alumni mailing list was now approaching 500 names.
The 80's and into the 90's saw the normal ups and downs in the student club and continued growth in the alumni association. 45th, 50th and 60th reunions were held.
Following the 60th reunion party in October 1998, the Summer of 1999 saw the largest work project in two decades when the 1976 roof and gutters were replaced and many of the original 1938 windows were replaced.
Over 70 students, alumni, family, and friends participated. A highlight of the weekend was a memorial service for Doc Kase lead by Rev. Frank Ramsey the third president of the club. Frank used excerpts of an original Kase sermon as the basis for his remarks. It was amazing how timely Doc's comments shortly after Pearl Harbor were today.
If you are reading this page, you are now part of the history of this cottage and this organization. Add your thoughts and memories to the guest book, share your photographs with Lynne Fogel our historian and treasure your time here as others do and have done for over 60 years.
This history taken from the GCCOC Cabin manual.