Northwestern played its home football games at Dyche Stadium / Ryan
Field, it played at old Northwestern Field, a stadium that was located
almost exactly where the current stadium stands. Before that, the
Purple played at Sheppard Field, where the fraternity quads are
now (you can see details about each of these sits in the Home Sites Section of this Webpage).
did NU play, however, before it moved its field to the Sheppard site in
1891? Here things get a bit murky. The common answer is "Deering
Meadow," and that is mostly correct. The meadow, simply called Campus
Meadow back then, was used by Northwestern for its home games until
1891. However, it was not the original site for the field.
original site 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 baseball and football
grounds. Football at this point, it should be noted, was not what we
think of as American football, but more of a rough-and-tumble
soccer-style kicking game, with virtually no rules. The school first
used this area to play football in 1874. The games were just interclass
affairs, in which the classes kicked a ball around the field.
used this field to play its first "real" game of football in February
1876, against the Chicago Foot-Ball Club. 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.
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
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.