The Coast Star
by Desiree A. DiCorcia
October 21, 1999
While WWII clutched humanity in its grips, not many institutions, places or people escaped undisturbed. The students attending The King’s College, a Christian school located in Camp Evans, Wall Township, were-no exception. In 1941, the dictates of war forced the Army to give the students and the college `the boot.’
After 1941, the Army permanently occupied Camp Evans and turned it into a secret radar laboratory. On Oct. 15 1999, for the first time in 58 years, members of the 1938-1941 classes of King’s College were allowed to visit their former campus.
Beatrice Medeiror, of Asbury Park, was enrolled in the second class of the college in 1938. She explained that the four “Camp Evans” classes have held annual reunions for over 56 years.
However, because of the Army’s top-secret occupation, the former students were never allowed to revisit their former campus.
The former students can thank the work and inquiries of Wall Township historian Fred Carl and the Army for their recent return to the grounds of their alma mater. The Army is currently working furiously to have the camp cleaned-up of radioactive elements, so that it can be conveyed to the township by early next year.
“The main building [the Marconi Hotel], from the exterior, looked just like it had years before. It is located in a lovely setting off of the Shark River which is surrounded by tall trees,” stated Ms. Medeiror.
“What has changed is the interior of the building. The dormitories and dining hall were partitioned after the government took over,” noted Ms. Medeiror.
Mr. Carl explains that as WWII was brewing in Europe in 1938, 90 freshman enrolled in the first class of the college on the old Marconi Wireless Station property located on the banks of the Shark River.
Well-known professors from Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and other colleges visited Wall Township one day a week to teach at the college.
Tuition at the school was $400, which included both room and board. The Marconi hotel served as the main building, offices, chapel and dormitory for both men and women students.
Mr. Carl explained that the power plant near the Monmouth Building was the biology lab, and the Marconi wireless operation building near the river was the chemistry and physics lab. The college built a gym next to the biology lab, but the gym was just demolished to remove soil from underneath the building.
No one graduated from the Wall Township campus. In 1941, the military would take over the old Marconi station for a second time. This time it was not the U.S. Navy, as in WWI, but the US Army Signal Corps from nearby Fort Monmouth, explained Mr. Carl.
“After we left, Camp Evans home to so much secret work. Individuals in one room did not even know what was going on in the next room,” explains Ms. Medeiror.
The college and students then moved to a new campus in Delaware. Ms. Medeiror explained that the students were bused to an old southern mansion where they continued to take classes. Today the mansion no longer exists. Ms. Medeiror explained that when an oil company bought the land, the building was razed.
But, the college did not go down in flames with the building and instead relocated, once again, to upstate New York; along the Hudson River.
Most of the students who graduated from the college in Delamare became ministers or missionaries, two would become a part of the Manhattan Project, and others teachers and doctors.
Ms. Medeiror decided to stay close to home and worked for a colonel at Fort Monmouth during the war.
Mr. Carl noted that the students of King College have come from all over the country for many years to visit their alma mater. Finally, with the help of the Army; they were able to revisit the inside of the buildings and campus which they still so fondly treasure.
“As the group walked the of the old building, they.spoke of a time when they heard H.G. Wells `War of the Worlds’ radio broad-cast, or played college pranks on other students. Some claimed to have climbed the 150-foot radio towers or walked on the tile roof of the hotel porch,” explained Mr. Carl.
In the biology lab., a student developed the first anti-venom for the black widow spider, which a drug company subsequently sold to hospitals. For recreation, students would walk to Asbury Park.
“We had a fantastic time,” remembered Ms. Medeiror. “we used to walk in groups into Asbury Park to attend concerts in Convention Hall – which took up a good part of our fun.”
Ms. Medeiror explained that there was no such thing as sororities or fraternities but the students were involved in all sorts of clubs, especially musical clubs. The students sang at churches, picnics, held evening programs and skits.
Ms. Medeiror recounts with pride the timed she served up ivory soap balls covered in chocolate for a fellow student on April Fool’s Day. Then there was the time students taped a dead fish underneath the faculty table, which was not uncovered for three weeks.
In addition, the students studied a lot, added Ms. Medeiror.
During the tour, the former students learned that the old Marconi hotel is set to become a science museum, which is what the Army is working on now. The students were invited to come back next year so they might have dinner at the refurbished museum.
page created November 05, 1999