OWJC Valparaiso Campus

Condensed from an article by Emma Goggin,
reporter for the Northwest Florida Daily News,
written for the OWC 25th anniversary commemorative booklet.

It was called "Dodge City" and "Boggy Tech" this once business hub of Valparaiso that had the distinction of becoming a college.

Rolling the calendar back into the 1920s, the business structures along the short street, which resembled the small town setting for a cowboy movie, housed a bank, a weekly newspaper, a jewelry store, hardware store, drug store, a small grocery store and a dress shop, operated by the Howell sisters.

When the two-lane highway, which passed through the then fringes of Valparaiso, was widened to four lanes in 1961-62, the center of activity began to shift. Most of the businesses deserted the old downtown section for the busier, four-laned John C. Sims Parkway.

The ghost-like buildings stood vacant about to decay from disuse until the culmination of a dream materialized in the spring of 1964 - the opening of Okaloosa-Walton Junior College.

Valparaiso's old business district took on a collegiate air as classrooms, administrative offices, science, library, and other facilities for the new junior college emerged out of these structures. The aged buildings were given new labels and new life.

For the charter students who arrived on the makeshift campus in August, 1964, a unique experience awaited them.

They paused to listen to carillon music floating over the campus. The music came from a quiet little community church, an interdenominational structure just around the corner from the campus.

Then the tempo changed as they rushed off to the bank building to attend their first classes, later dropping by the Howell Sisters Dress Shop for a snack before trekking to an outdoor assembly in Perrine Park.

The students referred to the campus as "Dodge City." Others called it "Boggy Tech, by Heck!" So sung out (spontaneously it was reported) six men at the opening assembly of OWJC, Fall 1964. Yes, even at the outset it was "Boggy Tech, by Heck!"


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