On October 26, 1934, the Knox College Board of Trustees listened raptly as Janet Greig Post, an 1894 Knox graduate, challenged them to become active citizens and alumni. "Knox College belongs to all of us?especially to us who are officers, trustees, and alumni?and without the consciousness and strength of your cooperation, counsel, and sacrifice both of time and gifts, the task cannot be completed." The task that Post describes is the restoration of Knox's Old Main.
Through its first 80 years, Old Main stood witness to history, growth, and prosperity. But, by the 1930s, amid the Great Depression, this landmark was in dire need of restoration, and its future was in doubt.
Who was this woman who was so passionate about restoring Old Main?
Janet Greig Post came to Knox College as a first-year student in 1890 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in literature in 1894. She was well traveled, and after graduate work in Europe, she returned to Knox as a German instructor in 1896 and the following year was appointed dean of women.
In 1902, she married Phillip Sydney Post, Class of 1887, general counsel for Chicago-based International Harvester and member of the Knox Board of Trustees. While in Chicago, Post was involved in many philanthropic organizations, including the Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund for the Betterment of Child Life, the Harriet McCormick YWCA, the Chicago Association of University Women, and the Illinois Training School for Nurses, to name a few.
Post assumed her husband?s position on the Knox College Board of Trustees after his death in 1920, and she was considered a powerful member of that group. She was such an active Knox alumna that students attending the weekly (compulsory) service at Beecher Chapel had been known to "praise Father, Son, and Mrs. Post." She maintained her seat on the Board until her death in 1964.
Post worked tirelessly to raise the funds necessary to restore Knox's most important campus building. She knew how to talk to people and to recruit their assistance. "Little drops of water do make a mighty ocean," she would say. Post wrote thousands of letters to alumni, friends, and donors and hundreds of notes of appreciation during her crusade. The campaign was "Post" marked only after more than 8,500 letters were written.
Of the more than $30,000 Post raised for exterior restorations, more than $22,000 was in cash donations. The rest of the money for the exterior was borrowed on security from the Janet Greig Post Fund. In addition, Post single-handedly furnished the Alumni Room in Old Main, including structural restoration and all the furnishings, top to bottom.
Old Main, which stands today central to the campus, is the pride of Knox College and is on the National Register of Historic Places. At the north entrance of the building, a bronze tablet marks the Centenary celebration. On it a quote from Post states, "Old Main, rededicated to youth, stands as a symbol of the permanence of Knox College and of its faith in the future."