By: Janice Schulz, Former ARB Library staff member
The University of Cincinnati is in the midst of a major renovation of Nippert Stadium that will turn it into a state-of-the-art athletic complex, but at one time our gridiron heroes played on what were simply a field and a chain of stands. According to the 1904 Cincinnatian the “much-needed and long-looked for” athletic field was completed in that academic year. The field was later named after UC alum, medical school faculty member, and UC director Archibald I. Carson. As a medical school student (Class of ’89) Carson organized the first UC football team. The stands were first erected in 1912 at a cost of $50,000 and then added to in 1920 and again in 1924, when the stadium was dedicated in memory of Jimmy Nippert. In 1935 the Works Progress Administration sponsored a $135,000 project to add the press box. Shank Pavilion was added in 1954 and a major renovation came in 1991 at a cost of $13,500,000.
The photograph featured here was taken circa 1918 before the football arena became a true stadium. UC Archivist Kevin Grace notes that the stands pictured here “would be the east stands when Corryville backyards came right up against the stadium. “ This was during World War I, when more than 25% of the male student population and a good part of the faculty were serving in the armed forces. On top of that, an influenza epidemic quarantined many areas of the university. It was hard enough to get a team together, much less fill the stadium, and the season started late in the year. But those fans lucky enough to sit in those stands saw their team go for an undefeated 1918 season (3 wins, 2 ties).
The photograph was discovered in the papers of noted defense attorney William Foster “Foss” Hopkins housed at the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Museum. Hopkins studied Liberal Arts and Law at UC from 1917-1920. During his time at the university he was a member of the football and track teams and competed on Carson field many times. He had a prolific legal career, defending more than 500 clients during a 50-plus year tenure. I am currently working with The History Press on an autobiographical study of Foss Hopkins. The book will include anecdotes and never before seen photographs from both his personal and professional lives. Look for it in 2015!