#44: New grounds (1926)

"With the breath of spring, work for promotion such as mine inevitably slackened in momentum and I heard the echoes calling from our Anatolia campus, so in March I went overseas again by the route we came ordinarily to prefer, via London, Paris, Geneva, and the Simplon Orient Express to Thessaloniki. College and Girls' School had been going very well in view of the actual facts and general conditions. Even yet, refugee multitudes by the thousand were expected to reach Macedonia, chiefly from up-country Balkan states and provinces, but this now was a fairly normal "exchange", with inevitable hardships kept to a minimum.

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There had been increasing doubts in regard to the Kara Tepe ridge where for more than two years we had anticipated permanently rebuilding the College. There certainly were difficulties. It was remote from town for day pupils. The soil was thin and stony, and it would be difficult for trees and vegetation to take root and grow. There was no water near. No work had been done on the site except some preliminary surveying. On April 14th, as Mr. Brewster and I were walking from the Kara Tepe locality down to the city, our attention was attracted to the lay of the land on our present campus, along the edge of which we were passing, by the old British military road. We turned aside, walked carefully over the ground, considering the requirements of our eagerly sought campus, with transportation, water supply which was lacking and difficult outside of town, and the like, and felt our quest was ending. Others soon agreed, and from that time there was in general increasing approval and satisfaction with what our Trustee, President Thwing, when visiting us soon afterward, called "one of the finest locations for a college in the whole world". The plan was formed in May, 1926.

Having selected grounds for our main and permanent campus, the next thing was to acquire the property. Within what soon became and still is the main campus, there were five small, unfenced fields. Cotton with a red boll grew in one. There were some peas in another. Most of the ground was rather thorny and stony. We employed Mr. John Racopoulos as our agent, and I kept out of sight. One or two of the pieces were inheritances and owned by family groups of a score or more persons, any one of whom might forbid or delay the sale, for the sake of the few drachmae belonging to his small share. The middle piece of the five belonged to the Kapoujides Church, probably having been left as a bequest by someone who thought it might be well for him to insure prayers for the rest of his soul when he was done with this world. I asked the attorney who was passing on titles for us about purchasing the piece. He said, "You can't get it. This belongs to a Greek Orthodox Church. You are foreigners and Protestants". I asked him if he could not find some way to act as our agent and secure it, and he emphatically declined to undertake it, saying, finally, that if I could get the authority of the Metropolitan Bishop, we might acquire it, but he evidently felt that our chance was slim. Of course, I had to make the effort, and I was fortunate enough to secure the full permission of His Holiness for one of the little fields that we wanted. That was near the beginning of an acquaintance between us which grew and ripened with the years and resulting relations of mutual friendship and respect between Christian brethren. Through our Metropolitan Bishop, I learned to regard the great Eastern Orthodox Churches with great and increasing respect and good will."

NEXT: The first graduation (1926)

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