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The first building on campus, College Hall, is still a landmark and point of reference for students, alumni, and the community. The building was begun by Franklin College, which had originally been located in New Albany, Ohio, but moved to Wilmington in 1865, at which time subscriptions were taken for a college building, College Hall. Construction began in 1865 but faltered until the Religious Society of Friends purchased the unfinished Franklin College building in 1870. Wilmington College is the only college that was ever bought at auction. The three-story building was completed in time for the opening of Wilmington College in 1871; four years later Wilmington College was chartered.
College Hall or "Old Main" has been a vital part of campus life since its completion. In the early years it provided not only office and classroom space, but living quarters for faculty and students, an auditorium, a library, and a preparatory department for secondary school classes. Since its renovation in the 1970s, it houses administrative and faculty offices and several classrooms. In 1973, College Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The building remains in very good condition.
From the National Register report:
College Hall is a red brick building in the Italianate style. A tall (four-story) tower projects from the front of the building. All the windows and doors have arches, and the bracketed cornices of the tower and building extend approximately three feet. The roof, which is supported by large timbers, is tile. There is one viable chimney. Eight other chimneys have been unused since 1899 when furnaces were installed to heat the Hall. The hall walls and outside walls are a foot thick and carry the weight of the building. Some reinforcement has been added to help bear the load.
The first and second floors each had four classrooms and two halls. The first floor was used for offices and classrooms. The library was on the second floor and the third floor contained the president's residence. The third floor was later used as a gymnasium and theater. The building also contained a chapel and laboratories.
Now, all three floors are used for classrooms and offices. Partitions have been added, and the two windows on the south end of the third floor have been converted into doors which open onto fire escapes. One of the three outside doors to the northern part of the building has been closed, and only the west door to the southern part of the building is used. Some of the large oak planks in the floors have been renewed and the exterior doors have been replaced as has most of the original hardware. The building has been rewired and now has tubular florescent lights.
Boyd, Oscar F. History of Wilmington College. Wilmington, OH: Wilmington College, 1959.
College Hall, Wilmington College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.
Johannesen, Eric. Ohio College Architecture Before 1870. Columbus, OH: Ohio Historical Society, 1969.
The Link: The Alumni Magazine of Wilmington College. [n.d.].