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Timeline: 1881-1890

  • T. M. Sinclair, long-time supporter and Trustee, dies on 24 March when he accidentally falls down an elevator shaft at his meat packing facility.
  • Rev. Stephen Phelps is inaugurated as the first president of Coe College.

  • Coe College opens its first academic year on 13 September; among students is James Reed, future U. S. Senator from Missouri.               


  • Construction of Williston Hall is completed and begins housing female students.
  • Alpha Nu, a literary society for men, is founded.


  • An east wing is added to the original Parsons Seminary building; completion of building known as Old Main Hall.
  • Miss E. Belle Stewart and Mr. Stephen W. Stookey are Coe College's first graduates.  Commencement exercises held on 12 June in the Opera House.
  • Dr. Frederick Starr joins faculty; first Coe professor to possess a Ph.D.


  • President Stephen Phelps resigns from presidency so he can return to a pastorate.
  • Four graduates of Coe, including E. A. Ross and Robert Stewart, two of the college's most famous alumni.



  • Due to student unrest, expulsions, and withdrawals, Coe has no seniors and no graduating class.


  • For second year in a row, Coe has no graduates.
  • Coe's college newspaper, the Coe College Cosmos begins publication as a monthly in the fall of 1890.

Forward: 1891 to 1900
Back: 1851 to 1880

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Coe College
1220 1st Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402