Oberlin College Archives

IRVING W. METCALF (1855-1938)

PAPERS, 1877-1937


Irving Wight Metcalf (1855-1938) was born in Bangor, Maine, November 27, 1855. In 1865 the Metcalf family moved to Elyria, Ohio. Irving Metcalf enrolled in Oberlin College and earned the A.B. degree in 1878 and the B.D. in the Seminary in 1881, following a brief period of study at Andover Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the ministry in Columbus, Ohio. Reverend Metcalf held pastorates in Congregational churches in Columbus from 1881-89, and in East Cleveland from 1889-97. In Cleveland he helped to organize the Hough Avenue Congregational Church, serving as the first pastor. He also served as Superintendent of the Congregational City Mission Society (founded 1892) from 1894-97.

In 1897 he resigned his pastorate and moved to Lawrence, Kansas. There he engaged in investment and real estate business with Wilder S. Metcalf (1855-1929, A.B. Oberlin 1878). In 1899 Irving Metcalf returned to Elyria, Ohio where he became a bank director and executor of estates. Three years later, in 1902, Metcalf moved to Oberlin. He was a member of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees from 1900 to 1925, succeeding his father Eliab Wight Metcalf (1827-1899), who was a trustee from 1880 to 1899. Irving Metcalf also served as a member of Oberlin College's Prudential Committee and the secretary of the Oberlin Living Endowment Union. He worked as an intermediary for Charles M. Hall (1863-1914) for a large number of real estate transactions, some of which ultimately became gifts to the college.

Despite retirement from the pastorate, Metcalf remained active in church affairs and social causes. From 1898 to 1913 he was chairman of the church property committee of the National Council of Congregational Churches. He also served as a trustee of the Thessalonica Agricultural and Industrial Institute at Salonica, Greece. Metcalf was an ardent temperance advocate, and was one of the founders of the Anti-Saloon League in 1893.

In 1885 he married Flora Bell Mussey (1857-1945), a Wellesley College graduate. They had two children, Edith E. (Oberlin A.M. 1910) and Harold M. (Oberlin College 1914). Irving Metcalf died in Oberlin February 12, 1938 of arterio-sclerosis.

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Last updated: 26 January 1996