Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Halls of Game Fame

For generations of students, the big game at Oberlin meant big campus spirit too.

September 26, 2023

Communications Staff

Students outside Gray Gables at Oberlin in 1943.
Residents of Gray Gables raise a glass to downing Wooster at Homecoming 1943. It worked: Oberlin trounced the Scots 46-0.
Photo credit: Oberlin College Archives

Homecoming weekend at Oberlin means student and alumni celebrations, rekindled memories, activities all over campus, and cheering on our varsity teams.

Fans at a football game in 1947
Fans pack the stands for Oberlin's 1947 Homecoming football game.

For many years, Homecoming also brought out a different kind of competitive spirit: an annual dorm-decorating contest that elevated the big game—and the accompanying Obie pride—to the front yards of residence halls and houses all over campus.

Each year, dorms were judged on Saturday morning, with the winning house announced at halftime of the football game—and a handsome trophy presented to the winning house, whose residents displayed it proudly until the following year’s competition.

Trophy presentation at football game 1947.
Halftime presentation of the 1947 trophy for best-decorated dorm.

The tradition can be traced to at least the 1930s and lasted at least until the late ’70s, when it took the shape of a best-banner contest.

Following is a glimpse of Homecoming dorm-decorating competitions past. The times may be changing, but the Obie pride is clear as ever. (All photos courtesy of Oberlin College Archives.)

See someone you know—or a place you fondly remember—in the photos? Tell us about it at alum.mag@oberlin.edu!

Embassy decorated for Homecoming 1941.

The trophy for 1941 went to the residents of The Embassy for their wizardly depiction of the football coach vanquishing the Wicked Witch of Swarthmore.

White House decorated for Homecoming 1942.

White House’s clever play on words—and an enormous desk and chair—won over the judges in 1942.

Pyle Inn decorations 1943.

The women of Pyle Inn took it to Wooster in 1943.

Women outside Keep Cottage.

Early snow was a ball for the self-described “gals” of Keep Cottage in 1943.

Women standing by decorations at Tank Hall in 1943.

Tank Hall brought out the heavy artillery for its 1943 decorations.

Barber decorations for Homecoming.

Swarthmore is the next client up in this undated Homecoming photo.

Federal Hall decorated in 1949.

Federal Hall razed Hamilton College in 1949.

May Cottage spider decorations in 1952.

Homecoming met Halloween for May Cottage’s 1952 theme.

Lord Cottage decorations from 1954.

Lord Cottage had DePauw’s Tigers by the tail in 1954.

Talcott Hall decorations 1955.

Talcott Hall had a plan for the Allegheny Gators in 1955.

Baldwin Cottage decorations 1956.

Dog show at Baldwin Cottage, 1956.

Poem decoration outside an Oberlin dorm.

Students waxed poetic in 1958, but Otterbein waxed the Yeomen by a score of 18-12.

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