1922: Campustown gets its name

‘Campustown’ Is New Name Of South Side

“Campustown” is the new name for the South Side business section. A contest, conducted recently by the merchants of the Fourth ward, resulted in the selection of this name for the Lincoln way business district.

Ford K. Edwards, freshman electrical engineering student, and John N. Thurber, enrolled in Ames high school and a son of Prof. J. M. Thurber of the English department, both suggested the winning name. The prize of $25 offered by the merchants will be split by these two men.

Tho the “Campustown” merchants have been in business for years along Lincoln way, no suitable name had ever come into general use by which to designate this part of the business district. “Campustown,” it was felt, will not only be an appropriate name but it will be distinctive of the business section bordering the south side of campus.

Iowa State Student, “‘Campustown’ Is New Name of South Side,” 7 April 1922

98 years ago today, Campustown received its name.

The term Fourth Ward was the name for West Ames for the first several decades of its existence because upon its annexation in 1893, it became a new local electoral ward – the city’s fourth.

Other names for the district at the time were

  • South Side, which only worked with those living in West Ames, since Ames Prime (east of Squaw Creek) also had a south side.
  • South Gate, an occasionally used name after the 1911 bridge was built across College Creek.
  • Champlinville, named after businessman A. L. Champlin, who owned a lot of land in the district.
  • Dogtown, which has a few different backstories, none of which are concrete. 1) Before cars, students had to “dog-it,” or walk everywhere if they wanted something. 2) People would sit on the campus hills along Lincoln Way (like the one at Friley) and observed that the buildings were reminiscent of prairie dogs – a lot of buildings but nothing very tall. An extended part to the story states the area was also a rough place to live. 3) Back in the early days of West Ames, there were a lot of dogs running about the neighborhood and therefore was nicknamed Dogtown. (DogTown was also the name of a local band in the 1990s. And yes, Dogtown University is also named after the old nickname.)

The Trueblood Shoe Store, which was located next to the College Savings Bank on Lincoln Way (in space that is now a part of US Bank), adopted the name within days. Students preferred Dogtown even after the Campustown name was adopted. Students from as late as the 1960s recall the district as Dogtown, not Campustown.

Though I didn’t research too much on Ford Edwards — not much resulted in a general internet search — John Thurber became a somewhat big deal.

This full-page advertisement also ran in the April 7 issue of the Iowa State Student. It also shows businesses that were a part of the association that wanted to formally name the district — I believe all these businesses were on Lincoln Way.

Iowa State Student, “Campustown Advertisements,” 7 April 1922.
Iowa State Student, “‘Campustown’ Is New Name of South Side,” 7 April 1922

The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times also ran a story on April 7.

Name Is Changed

Fourth Ward Business District now known as “Campustown”

“Southside” or “Dogtown,” as the business district of the Fourth ward has formerly been known, now does under the name of “Campsutown.” This resulted from a contest recently conducted by the merchants of that district.

Ford K. Edwards, freshman electrical engineering student, and John N. Thurber, enrolled in Ames high school; and a son of Prof. J. M. Thurber of the English department at the college, both suggested the winning name. The prize of $25 offered by the merchants will be divided between them.

Altho the merchants of the Fourth ward have been in business for years, no suitable name has ever come into general use. “Campustown” will no doubt be an appropriate name for the business section bordering the south side of the campus.

The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times, “Name Is Changed,” 7 April 1922.

Special Note: In the following issue of The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times (April 8), the filing of articles of incorporation for the Faculty Women’s Housing Company was announced. This group would soon build the Cranford Building.

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