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Upsala College in 1902

Upsala College was a private college in East Orange, New Jersey, USA, founded in 1893. Construction of the campus started in 1900. The college closed in 1995, after several years of financial problems.



The school was founded on the initiative of the Swedish-American Augustana Synod and immigrant Swedes, and received its name partly in reference to the historic University of Uppsala in Sweden and partly in memory of the Meeting of Uppsala, which had taken place in 1593 – exactly 300 years before the founding of the college – establishing Lutheran Orthodoxy in the country after the attempts of King John III to reintroduce Roman-Catholic liturgy. (Upsala is an archaic spelling variation of Uppsala, replaced in the early part of the 20th century by the version with two Ps, except in some proper nouns which have retained the old spelling.)

The college originally opened in Brooklyn, New York City, New York and later moved to Kenilworth, New Jersey in 1898 before settling in East Orange in 1924.

The school maintained high academic standards for many years, gaining a fine reputation as an excellent small college, with a vibrant campus life. Unfortunately as the surrounding community became more "urban", and the crime rate increased, the student enrollment at the college declined throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s. However, the college remained committed to the city of East Orange, and chose not to move to land donated to the school in rural Sussex County. Once the decision was made to stay in their current location, Upsala worked hard to boost its sagging enrollment, but it was to no avail, and the school closed its doors at the end of the 1995 academic year.

After the school was closed, the campus was sold to the East Orange School District, which built a high school on the site's eastern half and sold the western portion to the City of East Orange.

Modern day

The property and buildings on the West Campus were neglected, left to deteriorate and became a serious eyesore. All structures suffered acts of looting and vandalism and one building was lost to fire. The surviving West campus buildings were demolished in the Spring of 2006. Today, the Western site has been redeveloped for upscale housing.

The East campus became East Orange Campus High School, a public secondary school operated by the East Orange School District. Former East campus buildings Beck Hall, Puder Hall, Viking Memorial Hall (gymnasium) and College Center survived to be incorporated into the new high school.

Notable graduates

Some notable graduates of Upsala College include Allen Klein, the businessman whose controversial career involved him with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and Vin Scelsa, the radio DJ who created the "Idiots Delight" freeform radio program. Scelsa did his first broadcasting at Upsala's campus radio station, WFMU, which began in 1958. The volunteer staff bought the broadcasting license from the bankrupt school in 1995 and continues to operate the freeform station independently.

In fiction, the protagonist of Philip Roth's 1997 novel American Pastoral, Seymour "Swede" Levov, and his wife, Dawn Levov, are graduates of Upsala.

Morad Shophet, co-founder of Axiom Real Estate, a privately held investment and development company headquartered in Los Angeles.

Richie Roberts former New Jersey police detective and defense attorney. He is most widely recognized for the arrest, prosecution and later defense of Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas. He is portrayed by Russel Crowe in the film American Gangster.

New York Daily News television critic Kay Gardella.

Television and film

The derelict college campus was featured as a demolition project – used resources recovery – in the "Coal Miner" episode in season 2 of Dirty Jobs, a popular show on the Discovery Channel. It initially aired on August 8, 2006.

The 2001 film Riding in Cars with Boys was filmed on the campus.

External links

Coordinates: 40°46′34″N 74°12′34″W / 40.7762117°N 74.2093122°W / 40.7762117; -74.2093122



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