Six things you did not know about Lasell College

By Tristan Davis and Rosemary Leger

Karandon House has seen a child birth

Donald J. Winslow, son of former Lasell College President Guy Winslow, was born in Karandon House on December 21st, 1911. Winslow graduated from Newton High School in 1929 before receiving degrees from both Tufts University and Boston University. While working at Lasell, Winslow served as the school’s historian and even published a book titled Lasell: A History of the First Junior College for Women.

Lasell was the first school to own a pool

Lasell was the first school in the United States to have a swimming pool on campus. In an upgrade to the college’s physical education curriculum, it became mandatory for all students to learn how to swim. This swimming pool came as a gift on November 4, 1888 courtesy of Lucy Webb Hayes, the wife of former President Rutherford B. Hayes. Adjacent to the swimming pool was a private bowling alley.



Edward Lasell: valedictorian, chemist, and founding father

The eldest son of the Lasell family, Edward graduated from Williams College in 1828. He was the youngest valedictorian the school had ever had. Edward remained as an employee at Williams, and would eventually teach chemistry. He dreamt of establishing a school specializing in the teaching of young women. Edward’s classmate Joseph Partridge had a house in Auburndale, and when visiting his friend, they decided the location would be a great fit for a school. The starting tuition in the school’s inaugural year was $200.

Girls with guns

Introduced by Dr. Bragdon in 1888, the ladies of Lasell were taught military drills. This was an innovation in women’s education at the time, and primarily demonstrated annually at the end of each year Commencement ceremony. Called the “Lasell Battalion”, students were divided into rival companies and marched around campus in uniforms accessorized with wooden rifles or real swords. This event was covered by national newspapers and drew large crowds.


Growing Success

As the college grew in the early 20th century, so did the need for space. All new land purchased did not go towards housing or classroom buildings, but instead was turned into farmland. The products of the land were all used to feed the students at Lasell. What is now the Athletic Center, Wass and Wolfe Halls, was once vegetable gardens. The side lawn of Karandon House grew potatoes. Additionally, Lasell owned and maintained farmland in Weston, where more vegetables and dairy products were cultivated.

The Flame Speech

We celebrate our impending graduation with the sentimental Torchlight Parade, but in the 1920s, the fire was much bigger. During what was known as the Flame Speech, graduating students held a bonfire on the Bragdon lawn. The fire was fed by irritating objects from the past school year. Historically, these items were occasionally symbolic, but usually comical. Objects burned were things like a clock from Carpenter House, and a can of beans to represent the poor food served on campus.

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