Strong House

Madison McBride

One January in the 1880s, two students knocked on the door of James Strong’s house at 118 College Street and asked, “Might they borrow a horse and sleigh from Carleton College’s president to travel to a neighboring town where they had volunteered to teach Sunday School?”

“My dear young people,” he chuckled. He didn’t have a horse and sleigh, but he was sure that they could borrow one from Professor Goodhue, whose house was visible beyond the barn on Second Street.

This warm personal connection between students, faculty, and the college’s presidents has continued from the early years under Strong, when the college enrolled 480 students, to today, when it enrolls nearly 2,000. As Strong remarked in 1884, “From the beginning, Carleton College has stood for a high standard of scholarship combined with spiritual training . . . Piety is not accepted as a substitute for brains, nor a good intent for accurate scholarship, but . . . character is held to be the ultimate end of all education.”

Strong built the house in 1875, and he and his wife had raised three sons there. After he retired in 1903, the house passed to one son, who later sold it to the college (see photo 3).

The house itself has changed over time and has served many functions. The original Victorian house had its wraparound porch removed sometime after the turn of the last century and replaced by a neoclassical entryway designed to match the white exterior. The house has served as both a residence and as the home to administrative offices. Currently the human resources offices are located there.