Breaking News: Washington College to Move to Talbot County

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In a major shock to both Kent and Talbot County residents, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation issued a short press release over the weekend announcing that an anonymous donor has agreed to make a transformational gift of $1 billion to Washington College over the next ten years on the specific condition that it relocate its main campus to Talbot County.

The agreement, which has not been made public yet, describes a lengthy and complex process which moves the 236-year-old liberal arts college thirty miles south of its present location to a tract of land on the Miles River now owned by the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School on the outskirts of the town of Easton.

Artist Rendering of the Moving of William Smith Hall on Route 213

Reached for comment by the Spy on Friday, Washington College president, Kurt M. Landgraf said, “The Board of Visitors and Governors and I unanimously agreed some time ago that for $1 billion, we would move the school anywhere in the country. That being said, we are delighted that the College will be situated in beautiful Talbot County where some of the school’s original donors lived and worked. And our students are thrilled that future student bodies will finally be able to walk to a Target. It’s one of those win-win things for all.”

Landgraf also expressed gratitude to Chestertown and Kent County for its three centuries of hospitality. “Look, this was an excellent ride. It’s hard to beat 236 years being in the same town.  And I suspect some in town will be relieved that our stay is finally over.”

Future view of the moving of George Washington to his new home in Easton

According to preliminary plans, the College will only be moving the iconic William Smith Hall to Easton along with the school’s various statues of its namesake, George Washington. It is also predicted that the College’s president will reside in Perry Hall, the 18th-century plantation house on the new property, and that the head coach of WC’s men’s lacrosse team will take up quarters in the other historic home, Kirkland Hall, as part of the transaction.

Reaction in Talbot County was predictably upbeat. Ship and Print owner, and Talbot County Council member, Laura Price, commented, “To tell the truth, scout’s honor, we had no knowledge that this was taking place. But having said that, this news comes at a time when the County had been looking for new sources of cash, including adjusting our property tax revenue cap, so the timing could not be better. Of course, there will be some real downsides. I’m not wild about having all those liberal college professors moving here. On the other hand, all colleges need a good copy store, so it balances out.”

There was also immediate speculation in and around Talbot County on who the anonymous donor or donors might be. One scenario in that he or she are the direct descendants of those who originally invested in the school’s creation, particularly the family members of the Goldsborough and Tilghman clans given the disproportionately high number of those families on the original list. Others speculate that one of Talbot County’s many wealthy “come-here” residents made the spectacular offer to complement their existing or planned development projects.

The orginal donors from Talbot County to Washington College

Chestertown citizens responded with dread, anger, and confusion. The community, having recently lost its movie theatre and a popular downtown restaurant, and who nearly lost its local hospital a year ago, seems to indicate it will not let the move go forward without a fight.

Margie Elsberg, one of the founders of the “Save our Hospital” movement, immediately established a “Save our College” advocacy group. She remarked to the Spy, “First, the hospital, now this! I think it’s obvious who’s really behind this move, and I think the public needs to know.”

Chestertown also hinted that it would more than likely take the matter to court. Mayor Chris Cerino made it clear he was not going to be intimidated by what he considers to be an act of grand theft. “I don’t like it one bit, but, like so many times in the past, this community will rally and come together and fight this good fight.”

The Mayor was less forthcoming about what the town planned to do with the approximately 200 acres the College will vacate. He did not, however, rule out that the Sultana Education Foundation, where he serves as the education director, may use the WC campus for a new venture now under consideration by the organization’s board which would lead to the establishment of Sultana University.

The Campus of Calhoon MEBA Engineering School

It appears that the administration of the Calhoun Engineering School were caught totally off guard by the announcement. The education center, which has been in its present location since the mid-1970s when its parent, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, purchased the 656 acres just outside Easton from the now-defunct Kirkland Hall Junior College.

The only school representative the Spy could reach over the weekend found the news incredulous, but stated he was not authorized to speak on the record. He did, however, want to remind the community that the campus is not open to the general public.

Other unnamed sources familiar with the school’s plans suggest that the MEBA has been making discrete inquiries as to the future of the now vacant Russian Embassy retreat property just outside of Centerville, which they see as a more central location for their faculty and stuff.

In many ways, the Calhoon campus offers Washington College a almost turn-key transition since the school made extensive capital improvements starting in 1979, when the farm and estate buildings were converted to school use, including a refurbished dining hall, spacious residence units, a gymnasium, a modern classroom-administration building and an Olympic-sized pool.

The Mid-Shore community will undoubtedly be hearing more details about the move when President Landgraf holds a reception for Washington College alumni at the Talbot Country Club later this month.

Editor Note: Dear gentle reader, if you have been able to suspend your disbelief to the very end of this article, we must make it clear that this is entirely fake news to honor April Fools Day. 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Maryann says:

    A terrific April Fools story! Thanks for the chuckle!

  2. Patricia Holland says:

    NOT Funny!!!

  3. Joan Elburn Farley says:

    This is way more than April Fools Day nonsense! I was in tears by the time I got to the disclaimer…. I am a descendant of the Ringgold family, who played such a significant part in the history of the College. It may have seemed funny to you, but it was very cruel to some.

  4. Gabriele Connell says:

    What great news to receive on April 1 St Gaby

  5. Garret falcone says:

    Dear God….
    I will always love the college…
    I will always love the college…
    I will always love the college…
    I will always love the college…
    …….

  6. christine reeves says:

    Whew!!!! My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking until the final paragraph. Not good for This 80 year old lady who has grown to love all that washing college offers. Amen

  7. Gerry Levin says:

    I must say I did not find this funny at all. Bad taste.

  8. Very well done hoax. I should have suspected such when I saw the photos of a major building on a truck, cranes on a statue. If this were truly “breaking news,” there wouldn’t have been time to create such artwork. Reminds me of the time I was writing for the Somerset Herald and did a review, a la lodging comfort, color schemes and meals, from the inmates’ viewpoints, on a new county jail. Only the sheriff was offended, and slightly, for a tongue-in-cheek approach, involving much less shock than this article caused.

  9. Alexander says:

    May We breath now?
    I can see how this article has bewildered many, but credit must be given to The Spy. The story was well told, researched and with the right amount of fake quotes to make it believable.
    Thank you for the asusto…. (fright)

  10. Joe Lill says:

    With WC gone from Washington Avenue, Chestertown will have more roaming room for the Giraffe and Hippo that were donated to the town.

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