Problems and Solutions

Raulf Hotel Postcard

Army regulations prohibited cadets from sharing quarters with civilians. As it was too expensive for the army to lease the entire Raulf Hotel in downtown Oshkosh, it was ruled out as a barracks. 

 UW Oshkosh Archives and Area Research Center.

In its search for a training site in northeast Wisconsin, the Air Corps found much to like at Oshkosh. The first thing they liked about OSTC was that the college had experience with training future pilots.  Since 1939, under the authorization of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, a pilot licensure course had been taught at the college with flight instruction taking place at the Winnebago County Airport. In addition to that, the college had some experience training Army and Navy Civilian pilots, a group of men rejected for regular combat service but trained to become utility pilots or flight instructors. OSTC also had a famous local talent to serve as the cadets’ first flight instructor while they took academic classes. Sylvester “Steve” Wittman, famous airplane racer, engineer, and the future namesake of Oshkosh’s airport, taught these men how to fly.

Swart Hall

The Rose C. Swart Training School building was easily converted into barracks for the cadets.  Classrooms were converted to meet the cadets' need for housing; bunk beds were moved in, an infirmary was located on the first floor, and a dining hall was established in the basement

 

UW Oshkosh Archives and Area Research Center Photo.

Despite its bona fide experienced instructors, OSTC had no dormitories or cafeterias.  Numerous options were discussed and the most hopeful, the Hotel Raulf, a popular downtown Oshkosh hotel, was rejected due to army regulations prohibiting the quartering of military personnel with civilians. The army was on the verge of passing on Oshkosh, due to the lack of suitable housing.  Then, President Polk decided to offer the Rose C. Swart Training School building as barracks for the detachment.  The army sent Colonel J.B. Olson, a former student of Polk’s, to inspect the building and he declared the building was “excellent” for housing the cadets. 

Forrest R. Polk at desk

 

President Polk had to work quickly to fix OSTC's housing problem to ensure Oshkosh received its detachment. 

 UW Oshkosh Archives and Area Research Center Photo.

 

President Forrest Polk, a World War I veteran, negotiated the college’s contract with the Army. As the contractor, the college was responsible for instruction in academic subjects, cadets' physical fitness and the provision of medical care, food, and utilities. For their part, the government paid $26,552 for remodeling and new equipment, as well as a monthly check of approximately $22,055 for the room, board, medical care and instruction of the soldiers (who would never number over 400 at any given time).  The contract was signed on March 23, 1943 and the first contingent of cadets arrived five days later.

Regent Telegram

Edward Dempsey served as the local regent from Oshkosh, as well as on Lawrence College's Board of Trustees.  In a telegram to US Senator Alexander Wiley, Dempsey wrote that if Oshkosh could not solve its housing problem, Lawrence could house and educate the cadets in Appleton.

Microfilm Series 117. Wisconsin Historical Society.

Section 1: Securing the Detachment
Problems and Solutions