B.I.L. Hill

1949 - Present

Cottey students and faculty had made use of Lake Park Springs since its founding in 1888. The park, which came to be known as Radio Springs, was a mere 10 blocks from the college and perfect for picnics and recreation. By 1917, Cottey had arranged for private use of the park two nights each week.1 Twenty years later, the college was renting a cabin there. Cottey needed the natural space and recreation facilities that the park offered, but it was not until the early 1940s that someone proposed a more permanent solution.

BIL Hill, c. 1952
BIL Hill, c. 1952.11
BIL Hill, c. 1959
A Cottey club poses in front of the lake with Prof. Arsenio Alfara, c. 1959.12
BIL Hill, 1971
Students study on a boulder at BIL Hill, 1971.9

Buying BIL Hill

The possibility of purchasing a piece of land at Radio Springs Park first came up in 1943. Cottey President Dr. Marjorie Mitchell made the following proposal at a Board of Trustees meeting:

As I look to the future I have one other suggestion to make, even though it may seem somewhat far-fetched. At the park where we now rent a cabin, there is a beautiful hill which is at present unoccupied by buildings and is separated from the other half of the property by the highway. I wish that the college might own this rather extensive piece of ground. It is within easy walking distance of the college, has a stream from which a nice little lake could be constructed without much expense, and it has a lovely view over the larger lake. We could eventually build a combination lodge and field house there, picnic grounds and playing fields. It would serve for many uses and would give a sense of extension to our somewhat restricted campus. I offer the vague plan for your consideration.1

In 1947, the Supreme Chapter of the P.E.O. gave Dr. Mitchell the authority to work with the BILs ("Brothers-in-Law," i.e. P.E.O. husbands) of Ohio in purchasing a piece of the park.1 Mabel Carter offered Cottey College 40 acres of Radio Springs' "East Hill" for $15,000, but the Board of Trustees did not recommend the purchase. The college was in the midst of building Reeves Hall and a new heating plant and couldn't spare any money. The acquisition was postponed until 1949, when the BILs bought the 40 acres of wooded land and donated them to the college. A small piece of that was later sold, leaving 33 acres.10 Cottey continued to refer to the land as East Hill for a handful of years before the appellation "BIL Hill" took hold.

Thanksgiving Eve at BIL Lodge, 1964
Thanksgiving Eve rally in the first lodge, 1964.3
A rally at the first BIL Lodge, c. 1965
"Cottey is marshmallows at the Hill," c. 1965.14
A Junior initiation at BIL Hill, 1965
A freshmen initiation at the lodge, 1965.14

The Two Lodges

At the time of the purchase, there was a small wooden shack on the land that had been used as a soft-drink concession stand.10 Additions were made to this shack, eventually forming the first BIL Lodge, which was used for school picnics, meetings, and other get-togethers. It lasted until February 23rd, 1966, when it was destroyed by an early-morning fire.

Construction on a replacement began six months later, but was halted in October because the roofing material had not yet arrived from California.6 The P.E.O. Record stated that this was "due in part to the Viet Nam war."6 The missing material arrived in November and the lodge was dedicated the following month.4 Funding for the new building came from the insurance money and an allocation from the Cottey College Building Fund, totaling $26,646.6

This second lodge was nearly twice the size of its predecessor, built with red brick veneer and western wood cedar siding.10 Inside, a large common room paneled in pecan wood was flanked by a modern kitchen and two bathrooms. It was furnished with a piano, record player, and ping pong table.4 Off of the south side was a patio with benches, a sundial, bird bath, and statue. A new winding sidewalk led from the road to the lodge.10

The new lodge was dedicated on December 15th, 1966.10 Cottey President Dr. Ted McCarrel formally presented the building to the college. It was accepted by the presidents the senior class, freshmen class, and Associated Cottey Students. Dr. Henry M. Gregory gave the dedication prayer and Professor Jeanette Morrison, who had been with the college since 1934, recounted the history of BIL Hill and the first lodge.

The new Cottey singing group, the C-C Riders, opened the dedication with a song written by students Beth Johnson and Rebecca Parks:10

Upon some lone hill, in a lonesome place,
Where the wild birds whistle and their notes do increase,
There stands a lodge, with a hearth blazing high,
And the songs that are heard there are piercing the sky.

Our lodge it is new; still, the memories we'll keep,
Of times that were carefree and of friendships so deep.
Here, as hearts become wistful, our fondness will grow.
Cottey College we'll treasure, though the fires burn low.

After the dedication ceremony, students, faculty, and staff had their first meal in the lodge at different times during the evening.10

BIL Lodge burns down, 1966
Students look over the charred remains of the first lodge, 1966.18
BIL Hill lodge, 1968
The second BIL Lodge, 1968.4
Girls in BIL Lodge, 1969
Students relax in the second lodge, 1969.7

The rest of the grounds were either nicely landscaped or left untouched. The western half of the 33 acres was cleared of trees and turned into a rolling lawn. Along the north lawn was a grove of oak trees with some benches memorializing a Cottey alumna.4 The eastern half of BIL Hill remained in its original wooded state, save the nature trails and two sequestered picnic spots the college had cleared. A small lake sat at the southern side of The Hill, and was deepened by the college in the '60s.

The addition of BIL Hill meant the closing of the gap between Cottey and Radio Springs Park. Finally, after 65 years of using the park, Cottey students had a piece to call their own. In those early years, "The Hill" was often used for class field trips, rallies, and picnics. In a 1968 issue of the Record, student Leslie Broehl wrote,

The biology department takes field trips to The Hill during laboratory periods. On one such excursion we discussed an aspect of the history of Nevada by observing old concrete steps leading up the hill, removed plankton from our pond, discovered reindeer moss, matchstick lichen, and all sorts of mushrooms. We captured five live skinks, centipedes and, most important, learned to identify poison ivy.4

Class and society rallies were often held in the lodge, especially on Sunday nights when the dining room didn't serve meals. PEOs and faculty members occasionally used the facilities, and students favored BIL Hill for club meetings or just hanging out. "Suite Nights" at The Hill were eventually added to the traditions roster, allowing each suite to have a sleepover in the lodge sometime during the year. This tradition continues at Cottey today.

More Photos

BIL Lodge, c. 1950s
The first BIL Lodge, c. 1950.
Boys in the BIL Lodge, c. 1952
Boys in the first lodge, c. 1952.11
A picnic at BIL Hill, c. 1952
Cottey students enjoy a picnic at the Hill, c. 1952.11
BIL Lodge, c. 1959
First BIL Lodge, c. 1959.12
A meeting of Junior officers, c. 1959
Junior officers and songleaders meet at the Hill, c. 1959.12 (Joanne, Bari, Gloria, Nadine, Fleeta, Prof. Leslie Whitaker, Sharol, Karen, Lornel.)
BIL Hill, c. 1959
Students leave the lodge, c. 1959.12
Picnic at BIL Hill, c. 1963
A picnic at the Hill, c. 1963.13
Cottey girls bike around BIL Hill, c. 1964
"BIL Hill ― warm grass bowing at the wind's call... wandering dry leaves, free to rest on a pond... or become part of the forest's blanket," c. 1964.13
BIL Hill rocks, c. 1964
Girls sit on the rocks overlooking the lake, c. 1964.13
BIL all school picnic, 1964
BIL Hill all-school picnic, 1964.3
A line at the Cottey picnic, c.1964
Waiting in line at the BIL Hill picnic, c. 1964.3
BIL Hill lodge Duck Dinner
Seniors give Cristina and Jo a special Duck Dinner at the lodge, 1964.3
Singing at BIL lodge, 1964
Song leaders Donna, Gale, Jan, and Dianne sing at the Thanksgiving senior rally, 1964.3
BIL Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving eve at the lodge, 1964.3
First BIL Hill Lodge, c. 1964
"The Lodge ― donuts and hot chocolate, singing, a cold wind without. The warmth of friendship, laughter, and a fireplace within," c. 1964.13
BIL Lodge, 1964
A picnic at the first BIL Lodge, 1964.3
Miss Bond in the lodge, c. 1965
Prof. Bond serves concessions in the lodge, c. 1965.14
A rally in the lodge, c. 1965
A senior rally in the lodge, c. 1965.14
Winter at BIL Hill, c. 1965
Winter at the Hill, c. 1965.14
Fire destroys Cottey lodge, 1966
"Fire Destroys Cottey Lodge," 1966.5
PEOs in front of lodge, 1968
P.E.O.s mingle in front of the lodge during the seminar, 1968.8
BIL Lodge, c. 1967
BIL Hill and Lodge, c. 1967.16
Cottey Seminar in the lodge, 1968
A Cottey Seminar for P.E.O.s is held in the lodge, 1968.8 Dorothy Berry is speaking.
Picnic at BIL Hill, 1975
BIL Hill picnic, 1975.15
The Hill, 1975
Students eat at the Hill, 1975.15
Indiana suite at the Hill, 1975
Members of Indiana suite show off their shirts at the Hill, 1975.15
President Milam at the school picnic, 1975
President Milam enjoys the all-school picnic, 1975.15
BIL Hill buffet line, c. 1976
A buffet line at BIL Hill, c. 1976.15
Cottey seminar picnic, 1976
P.E.O. Margaret Peterson chats with Golden Key, Martha, at the Hill, 1976.17
Terri, Teri, and Deanna at the BIL Hill picnic, 1985
Terri, Teri, and Deanna from Co-Min suite picnic at the Hill, 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Jamie and Dana at the lodge, 1985
Co-Min suitemates Jamie and Dana relax at the Hill, 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Co-Min suite at BIL picnic, 1985
Co-Min suite form a can-can line in front of the lodge, 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
  BIL Hill bonfire, 2005
Wallace suitemates Francie, Courtney, and Katie relax at BIL Hill on bonfire night, 2005.

Works Cited:

  1. Stockard, Orpha. Cottey College: The First 75 Years. Joplin, MO: Joplin Printing Co., 1961. Print.
  2. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1940. Print.
  3. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1965. Print.
  4. Broehl, Leslie. "The Lodge and BIL Hill." The P.E.O. Record. Feb. 1968: 20. Print.
  5. "Fire Destroys Cottey Lodge." Columbia Missourian. Columbia, MO. 23 Feb 1966. Print.
  6. Bail, Dr. Milo. "Cottey's Long Range Building Program." The P.E.O. Record. Jan. 1967: 16-17. Print.
  7. "Miss Cottey Started Her School in 1884." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1969: 17-24. Print.
  8. "Seminar at Cottey." The P.E.O. Record. Dec. 1968: 9. Print.
  9. "BIL Hill." The P.E.O. Record. Apr. 1971: 7. Print.
  10. Watson, Virginia. "New, on BIL Hill and Elsewhere on Cottey Campus." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1967: 2-3. Print.
  11. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1952. Print.
  12. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959. Print.
  13. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1964. Print.
  14. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1966. Print.
  15. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1976. Print.
  16. Parker, James. "Why Choose Cottey?" The P.E.O. Record. Aug. 1967: 6-7. Print.
  17. Parker, James. "Cottey Seminar." The P.E.O. Record. Nov. 1976: 6-8. Print.
  18. "BIL Lodge Destroyed By Flames." The Nevada Daily Mail [Nevada, MO] 23 Feb. 1966: 1. Google news. Web.
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