North High School  -  Columbus, Ohio

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How Did North Become Polar Bears?

By Leeann Faust ‘58

Excitement about the New North High did not die down after the students moved into the building at 100 Arcadia Ave. in 1924.  Next on the agenda was the building of a football stadium.

DESIGN – There were several concepts discussed for the design of the stadium.  At the Athletic Association meeting of October 11, 1925 plans were considered for temporary bleachers, permanent wooden stands or a brick and cement structure.  By January the decision was made to proceed with the most ambitious project, “the building of brick and concrete bleachers and a Memorial Gateway.”  The plans states that “it is to be 321 feet long, 35 feet wide, have 15 tiers of seats and seat 4000.”  Later the elaborate gateway in the Arcadia Avenue fence was reconsidered.

CONSTRUCTION – The February 8, 1927 minutes of the Athletic Association trustees meeting reads, “….Resolved that the president and secretary of the N.H.S.A.A. be authorized and instructed to enter into contract with the E.H. Latham Co. (they built the OSU stadium) for the construction of a stadium, or grandstand according to the plans and specifications of Snyder and Babbitt, as modified by architect Howard Dwight Smith on their bid of forty thousand and thirty-eight dollars ($40,038.00)….
Construction of the stadium began on March 1, 1927 with a completion date set for July 15, 1927.  Other contracts had to be awarded; W.H. Spohn Co. -  to install the “heating apparatus” - $4,242, J.A. Sheehy Co. – electrical work $596 and $83.10 for additional lamps, guards and fixtures (this did not include lights for the firld which were not installed until 1929).  Samuel A. Esswein Co. – plumbing $2,847.

THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS – Harry P. Swain, who was then the principal of Crestview Junior High School was the general chairman of the fund raising campaign for the new stadium.  The first plan for raising the $60,000 needed for completion of North’s stadium was the sale of membership tickets, which ranged from $5 for one year to a lifetime family membership for $500.  Although this looked wonderful on paper, the committee quickly realized that it was unrealistic to expect all of the money to be obtained in this manner.  A campaign, which included everyone in North Columbus, began to take shape.  Prospects for donations were divided into three groups; alumni, under-grad and business leaders and they were contacted and asked to make pledges.  A drawing of the stadium and gateway were printed on 4,000 postcards and sold to the general public.<>One of the most successful projects was “Put a Brick in the Stadium,” took place between May 23 and 27, 1927.  A thousand coupon books, containing 10 tickets, which sold for 50 cents each, were issued.  A ticket represented one brick.  The bearer of a “brick coupon” was entitled to free admission to the opening game against Mansfield on September 24, 1927.  Each student who sold a book of coupons received a badge and a ticket to a football game.  Those students selling the greatest number were awarded with season tickets for from one to three years.  Alice Armbruster Faust ’33 and her sister, the late Katherine Armbruster Pallas ’30 were proud owners of bricks and often reminisced, wondering just which bricks belonged to them.<>Each homeroom made a pledge.  There were many moneymaking ideas.  They had sales of bake-goods, flowers, candy, and even trashcans, plus newspaper and old tire drives.  There was a shoeshine parlor (10 cents for girls, 15 cents for boys).  A Richard Dix movie, “The Lucky Devil,” was presented in the auditorium.  In room 223 students brought their lunches from home one day and contributed their lunch money to the fund.  The Majestic Theatre presented a special showing of the week’s program at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 8.  Room 328 had a rummage sale.  Room 326 sponsored a bridge party.  Everyone in room 317 brought in a contribution of $1.  As each room met their quota, a cherry bomb was set off in their honor.  The Polaris reported that things were really popping around North at that time.<>The Athletic Association and the Student Council co-sponsored a community carnival on October 11 and 12,1927, with proceeds going to the fund.  Booths and tents offering a variety of entertainment were erected on the field.  The feature attraction was a Roman play.  A king, Glen Crihfield, and queen, Oliva Jones, were crowned.  A vaudeville show was presented as well as a series of films.

MONEY BORROWED – Although a tremendous amount of money had been raised, the fund fell short of the total amount needed to build the stadium, purchase equipment and pay the ever growing expenses.  It became necessary to borrow money from local lending institutions to pay off the contractors.  It was believed that the loans could easily be paid back with profits from game admissions and refreshment sales.  This plan would have been successful had it not been for the depression.  Only the interest and a small amount on the principal could be repaid each year.  In 1936 there was still a balance of $10,000 due to the banks.<>BABY BONDS – In October of 1936 the Athletic Association decided to issue “Baby Bonds” which would enable them to pay off the stadium’s bank debt.  Over 1000 copies of the following letter were mailed.


A Call To The Friends of North High!

 If a friend were to ask you to lend him ten dollars with an absolute certainty it would be repaid, and with certain knowledge that it would meet a pressing need, it is our belief that you would respond. We go to you as a friend of North High.  We need your assistance. One thousand friends is certainly a glorious asset of any institution.  It is a large number to reach, but we can do it if you will help.

 There is a balance of $10,000 due local banks on the stadium.  It impairs the physical education program of our boys and girls to pay out $600 a year for interest.  This money is sorely needed for equipment.  By making the request for a very small loan, we believe we have enough friends to help us stop this interest expense.

 You will be repaid.  During each school year, numbers will be drawn and the loans bearing these numbers will be paid at once.  In consideration for the loan without interest, you will be admitted to the first two games of football each season until your number is drawn and the loan paid.

 Upon the receipt of $10 you will be given a note secured by a resolution voted by the faculty.  We pledge you our promise to repay as explained above.

Won’t you aid us by making your decision now?…

                                                                                                                                Sincerely yours


The final campaign was successful.  On April 29, 1937 the Athletic Association authorized final payment to the banks on the stadium notes.<>The final bond was paid off and burned by teacher and basketball coach Earl Hickman at the homecoming game in 1940.  Thus making North’s stadium the only one in the city totally funded by the community.