Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/42
A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
per cent—but because it was "indispensable to the Observatory," which, with the telescope and equipment, cost a little more than one-third as much. A subscription of ninety-two thousand dollars was raised for Douglas Hall, not all of which was collected, so that it probably added over forty thousand dollars to the indebtedness. It was a large and imposing structure with a lofty tower in front and the Observatory in the rear. On July 1, 1864, the liabilities of the University were reported to be sixty-four thousand eight hundred dollars, on July 1, 1865, ninety-two thousand dollars, and on September 1, 1869, they were reported at one hundred and thirty-five thousand, three hundred and forty-five dollars. Notwithstanding this large indebtedness, however, the trustees were by no means discouraged. Dr. Burroughs had recently reported new subscriptions of over a hundred thousand dollars. There were other assets available for the payment of these obligations amounting to twenty-five thousand dollars. Additional subscriptions were being sought and obtained. There were in all departments three hundred and forty-four students. The institution enjoyed the confidence and was receiving the generous co-operation of the citizens, and there was much in the outlook to encourage its trustees and friends.
The trustees, however, realized that extraordinary measures must be taken and the most strenuous exertions made to relieve the institution from the burden of its liabilities. It is due to them to say that, when they proceeded with the erection of the main building, they supposed they were making ample provision for its cost. Unhappily the cost was at least sixty thousand dollars greater than expected, and the trustees found themselves unexpectedly burdened with a crushing indebtedness. Most determined efforts were made to raise funds, and considerable progress was made with a subscription conditioned on a sufficient amount being secured to provide for the indebtedness. Just when everything indicated the ultimate success of these efforts, the great fire of 1871 destroyed the business district and a large part of the residence section of Chicago. This disaster was followed by the panic of 1873 and the fire of 1874. These calamities were peculiarly disastrous to the University. They destroyed all hope of the