NU Home Sites:
Deering Page


Northwestern On-Campus Home Game Venues #1:

This unnamed field was next to Sheridan Road. Northwestern's first athletic grounds were farther south on campus, near present-day Hinman Avenue, which is where the school began playing baseball. Northwestern first played football on the newer grounds near University Hall in 1874. The games in 1874 and 1875 were limited to interclass matches, and they were not American football; rather, they were the old-style, rules-free kicking game.

The first American football game that NU played against an opponent from outside the school also took place here in 1876. That game, against the Chicago Foot-Ball Club, was the first true football game, at any level, played in the American Midwest. The school continued to play football here through 1886.

Construction in 1886 forced the school to move its football athletic grounds a couple of hundred feet south to what was then known as Campus Meadow, where Deering Meadow is now located. There were never any permanent stands, just movable bleachers.

Campus Meadow was used by the team until early November 1890. After the hastily-arranged November 6 game against Chicago's South Division High School, the team moved its grounds again, but this time chose a field several hundred yards farther north, to the spot where Sheppard Field would be built.

Present-day Deering Meadow.
Unfortunately, there are no known contemporary photos of NU's football grounds on the site.

Venue Name: Athletic Grounds or Campus Meadow (site later referred to as Deering Meadow)
Dates Used: 1874 - 1890
First Game: Feb. 22, 1876 vs. Chicago Foot-Ball Club
First Intercollegiate Game: Nov. 11, 1882 vs. Lake Forest
Last Game: Nov. 6, 1890 vs. South Division H.S. (Chicago) (NU records have the incorrect date of this game)
NU Record at Campus / Deering:
Estimate (official games only): 5 Wins, 3 Losses, 1 Tie. Quite a few more games played here, but unofficially.
Largest Crowd (estimated): Approx. 200-- Nov. 14, 1889 vs. Notre Dame
Highlight Game(s): December 1888 win vs. Lake Forest

Where were these fields?

The original site of the football athletic grounds was a couple of hundred yards north of the present-day Deering Meadow, where the Jacobs Center now stands. Northwestern cleared this area in the early 1870s to use as a new baseball and football grounds.

Northwestern used this field to play its first "real" game of football in February 1876. The school continued to use the field through 1885. The field was originally quite large, spanning over 175 feet by over 350 feet, but was made smaller in the early 1880s.

At some point in 1886, construction on the campus interfered with the athletic grounds. The school was forced to move the field slightly south, to a spot directly next to Heck Hall (Heck Hall was where Deering Library is now). It is unknown if NU played its single 1886 game-- a loss to Harvard Prep, a high school in Chicago-- on the old field or the new. However, all home games on campus from 1887 through Nov. 6, 1890 were definitely played on the more southern field, including the first-ever game with Notre Dame in 1889.

The map below shows the exact spots of NU's first home football fields.