Opinion Column: The Long-Forgotten History of Bryan College

Written by Joshua Cresswell 

Photo by Rob Speed

Bryan College has seen far more history than most of us realize. When going about our daily lives on campus, we rarely spare a thought for the way things once were. The library keeps an archive of past documents, both in print and digital form, for the purpose of keeping those glory days alive. A look through this archive may as well be a look into another world.

It is strange to see the cafeteria as a feature of Mercer Hall. Equally strange is the idea of going to chapel in a little white church instead of Rudd Auditorium, at 8:30 instead of 10, five days a week instead of three. Housing needs for married students were once filled by a smattering of mobile homes, referred to as “Trailerville”, a name that might not stick today. The striking thing about the volumes contained in the archives, however, is not the extent to which life at Bryan has changed, but the extent to which life at Bryan has remained the same.

Students 50 years ago spent their time on the Hill in a manner that would be familiar to students 25 years ago, or students today. Deadlines, exams, extracurricular responsibilities, and questionable sleep schedules weighed down the class of 1974 just as much as the class of 2024. Exactly how similar daily life is can be seen in this page from the 1974 Commoner yearbook, which may as well have been written yesterday.

The archives can only tell us so much about the past, and so the best way to get a feel for the Bryan of years gone by is to speak with those who were there. In this series, alumni from different decades in school history will talk about their time as students, and offer some advice and encouragement for current students as well. 


Joshua Cresswell is a Politics and Government major from Cleveland, Tennessee. He is on the baseball team and chorale, and enjoys playing guitar during down time.

Rob Speed is a junior communications major and the head of satire at The Triangle.