Three wars. A devastating economic depression. Construction of an entirely new campus from scratch. And all in 50 years.

The period that began as World War I erupted and ended as the tumult of the 1960s loomed was marked by a series of unprecedented events that could have mortally wounded a modestly funded liberal arts college in central Maine. The Great War emptied the campus. World War II turned Colby into a military training center. The bold decision to move the College to Mayflower Hill was sandwiched by the Depression and the Korean War and marked by the return of World War II veterans, no longer the naïve students who left to fight for their country but more determined than ever to resume their education.

Throughout this period Colby declared itself ready for whatever the future would bring.

“When the Civil War depleted the classrooms, it was predicted that Colby would have to close, never to reopen,” Dean Ernest C. Marriner wrote to Colby servicemen in 1942. “But a greater Colby grew out of that disastrous time. When men left the campus almost as a body in the spring of 1917, it was again predicted that Colby was done for. But a still greater Colby arose after the armistice. Now the Cassandras again doom us to oblivion, again say that Colby is all through.”

Not at all. In fact quite the opposite—as evidenced by the stories and images on the following pages.

You’ve walked in their footsteps. Now read their words.


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