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The college opened formally on September 13, 1882, with a chapel service in the first Presbyterian Church. This first year there was a student body of 44 and three full-time and two part-time faculty members. After the chapel services, the students went to their classes above the post office in downtown Hastings.
Ground was broken on April 25, 1883 for McCormick Hall, the first building erected on campus. It was named after Cyrus H. McCormick, who contributed the initial $5,000 for the building. Construction began in the summer of 1883, and the building was completed and dedicated in October 1884, at a total cost of $14, 703. It has remained in daily use since that time.
From 1884 to the mid 1950's, McCormick Hall was the principle classroom building and the home of the departments of English, mathematics, speech, drama, and chemistry. A large room on the second floor, which originally housed the college chapel, was later converted into a little theater. Today, McCormick Hall is used by the English, journalism, and speech/drama departments for their classrooms and offices.
Nearly every student who has attended Hastings College since 1884 has had at least one class in this building. Consequently, it is closely associated in the minds of former students, as well as the townspeople, and serves as a link to their pioneer forebears on campus.
McCormick Hall is a two story, basically Italianate brick structure with a three story entrance tower topped with a pyramidal roof. The tower has dormers on each face for ventilation. The whole building is surmounted with a bracketed cornice. The windows are segmentally arched on the first floor and jack-arched on the second with brick string courses along the springing lines on the arches at each floor level. The main entrance has an elaborate pressed metal hood and a large sign at the top of the tower identifying the building.
Erected in 1883-1884 as the first building on campus, it is unaltered and maintains its original structure and architectural integrity (Information taken from National Register report, "McCormick Hall, ).
Nebraska State Historic Society. McCormick Hall [Hastings College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1975.