Fern Eddy Schultz: Jubilee College comes to La Porte

Written by Fern Eddy Schultz, La Porte County Historian

Jubilee College, which was located in Peoria, Ill., became a part of La Porte County in 1910.  It was then that a deal for the merging of the Jubilee school with the Interlaken School was consummated.  It was reported that soon after Dr. Edward Rumely started the Interlaken School, he learned of the Jubilee School at Peoria and of the work that was being done by Dr. Raymond Riordon, a man who had had much experience along the very same lines established by Dr. Rumely for Interlaken School.  Dr. Rumely became acquainted with the good results Dr. Riordon was having so he endeavored to secure Dr. Riordon’s services at the time, but could not.

The proposal of merging the two schools came later.  The final papers were signed January 15, 1910.  With the arrival of the students in La Porte on Saturday, January 22, 1910, it was possible to publicize the details of this important step in the history of Interlaken School, a step, which was also noted as meaning much to La Porte and its residents.

Dr. Riordon was a young man of 35 years but he was experienced.  Prior to starting the Jubilee School in 1905, he was in Washington where he was engaged in work along the same lines, the teaching of right living.  In the school near Peoria, he carried out ideas similar to those of Rumely, the teaching practical experience in the trades and much outdoor life in addition to regular school work.  Because Interlaken was up to capacity, in 1909, students were diverted to Peoria.

With the merging, Dr. Riordon was assigned duties to actively help manage Interlaken and the faculty of Jubilee became a part of the Interlaken faculty.  Dr. Rumely’s ideas and plans had aroused much interest in the work he was doing.  It was expected that within a few years, Interlaken would have under its control about 500 acres of land, many large buildings would be erected and the school plant would unquestionably rival any of its kind in America.

The Right Rev. Edward Fawcett, Ph. D., D., bishop of the diocese of Quincy, Ill., who was interested in the Jubilee School, said of Riordon, among other accolades, that his methods were unique, attractive and successful.

The Jubilee School, including faculty and equipment, arrived in La Porte at 10:22 on the morning of January 22, 1910, and transferred to the Interlaken School, which then had an enrollment of 110 boys.  To accommodate this number, it had taxed the capacity of the school, but additional housing was now in place with the construction of Interlaken Rumely Hall (commonly known as Waverly Apts.) now (2020) known as The Goods.

The main building for the school was the former Samuel B. Collins residence.  As soon as the deal was completed, all of the parents of the boys in the Jubilee School gave their consent to transfer all 40 boys to La Porte without objection.

Dr. Rumely’s theory was that the ideas being taught at Interlaken were taking root in the people’s minds—that they were realizing as they never realized before that book learning was not everything.  His method was giving the boys practical knowledge that was equipping the boys to “fight life’s battles” and to make something of themselves in the world and “to meet with more readiness the requirements of any college in the country”.  He contended the boys were leading a more healthy life because they were being taught how to live and how to bring out the most and best that was in them.

On June 1, 1911, Interlaken moved to Silver Lake, east of Rolling Prairie.  It closed in 1918 attributed to anti-German sentiment associated with WWI, according to some documents.  In March 1914, the Riordon School opened on the east side of Lake Chodikee in Highland, Ulster County, NY founded by Raymond Riordon and his wife Ella Chambers.  Riordon died in 1940, one year after his wife’s death.  His brother, J. Allen Riordon, assumed oversight of the school, but it closed in 1941 due to dwindling registration.

One Response to “Fern Eddy Schultz: Jubilee College comes to La Porte”

  1. Mike

    Sep 07. 2020

    Not to step on Fern’s toes, just wanting to add a trivia tidbit.

    I read recently that as the Belle Gunness farm burned in the early morning hours, Dr. Rumley woke the students who watched from the upper floor of the Interlaken school.

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply to Mike