Purdue Varsity Glee Club - History


The glee club was founded in 1893 with 11 members, under the direction of Lafayette organist, Cyrus Dadswell. At the time, Purdue University was an agricultural and engineering school without a strong musical tradition. In 1910, under the direction of E.J. Wotawa, the Glee Club composed the fight song “Hail Purdue”, originally titled "Purdue War Song". During the 1920s and 1930s, directors Paul Smith and Albert Stewart led and expanded the organization. Stewart was refused funding by the university president, so some of the early funding for the Glee Club came from Indianapolis pharmaceutical magnate, Josiah K. Lilly Sr. Lacking regular rehearsal space, the organization was considered a campus orphan. Lillian Stewart, wife of then comptroller R.B. Stewart, offered her living room as rehearsal space. However, as the Glee Club gathered more admirers, University President Edward C. Elliot yielded and formalized Stewart's position, hired a staff, and provided rehearsal space. The first official space for the Glee Club and the Purdue Musical Organization was in the “Music Penthouse”, the top floor of University Hall.

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