William Alfred Millis,
The History of Hanover College
From 1827 to 1927

(Hanover, Indiana: Hanover College, 1927).

Hanover Historical Texts Project

Scanned and proofread by Sadiye Amcaoglu, Nida Khan,
Julie Merkel, Jonathan Perry, Faiza Shah, and Cory Sims in November 2000.

Chapter VIII
The Plant

[Page 128] MUCH of the story of the original plant has already been told in earlier chapters. The first campus, three acres in all, comprised all the grounds now occupied by the Hanover Presbyterian Church and the residence property immediately cast. This land was given by Williamson Dunn. As previously related, the first structure on these grounds was a small two-story brick building twenty-five feet north and south, and forty feet east and west, so placed as to form an " L " of the "College Edifice," erected later. This first building was constructed especially to accommodate the Theological Seminary, all of the work of which was done by two professors. The classes of the "Literary department," as the Academy, and later the College, was sometimes known, were taught in the stone church which then stood where the public schoolhouse now stands, in the midst of the village cemetery of that day. These funereal surroundings did not entirely quench the animal spirits of the students of that day, if we may judge from the records of the Faculty meetings. John Barleycorn seems to have been a frequent visitor among the gravestones.

But this was not for long. In 1832 the Board, notwithstanding its treasury was empty, ordered the erection of a main building, forty feet by one hundred feet, and three stories high. The present church [Page 129] house was secured by reconstructing this "edifice" after the College was moved to the present campus. This first "main building" must have been imposing in its setting among the native oaks of the new state when first occupied in 1833. It contained a chapel, four recitation rooms, two of which with the chapel occupied the entire first floor; two library rooms and literary society rooms (on the second floor), and thirty-two "dormitories, calculated to accommodate two students each." The total cost of the building is not recorded. The catalogue of 1832-33 assures us that, "The College edifice, 40 by 100 feet, and three stories high, together with all the other public buildings, has gone up without the aid of alcohol," a fact which suggests one reason why John Finley Crowe was not popular in his former field of labor. When the new charter was received from the Legislature, "The Faculty at once consented to gratify the students in giving vent to their patriotic feelings by a brilliant illumination of the College Edifice. It was indeed a magnificent sight. The flood of light pouring from the one hundred windows of the tall edifice, contrasted charmingly with the dark background of the surrounding forest."

In rapid order followed a number of smaller buildings and residences to house the Seminary professors and the Manual Labor department. In a "Report of the Conditions and Prospects of South Hanover College," published in the catalogue in February, 1834, the property of the College was described as follows:

"1. A college campus of three acres on which is erected a brick edifice, 40 by 100 feet, three stories high; with a wing 25 by 40 feet, two stories high, furnishing a chapel, five recitation rooms, two library rooms, a hall for one of the literary societies, [Page 130] and thirty-two dormitories, suited to the accommodation of two students each.

" 2. A brick boarding house, 40 by 46 feet, furnishing a large dining hall, accommodations for the steward, and twelve dormitories. Connected with this building is a frame stable, smokehouse, etc.

"3. Ten separate frame dormitories, accommodating two students each.

"4. A carpenter's shop, 20 by 40 feet, two stories high, a cooper shop, 25 by 48 feet, one story high; and a wagon maker's shop, 20 feet square. The first two buildings are framed, the other of logs.

"5. A professor's house, 28 by 46 feet, two stories high. This building is brick.

"6. Farming utensils, and a farm of 150 acres: about 20 of which are in cultivation. The land is estimated at $20 per acre.

"7. In the lower story of the carpenter's shop is established a chair factory. The shops are furnished with tools. The whole is estimated at $15,000.00.

"In addition to this, they have a library containing about 2,000 volumes, and a chemical and philosophical apparatus."

Against this property there was an indebtedness of $4,955, and by 1844 all had been sold except the main building and campus to liquidate the accumulated debt. In 1843 the remainder of the property in the hands of the Trustees was sold at public auction in closing out the business of the old corporation preparatory to removal to Madison. The "College Edifice" and campus were bid in by Dr. Crowe at ten dollars, no one having the heart to bid against him. With the restoration of the College, the property was returned the Trustees, and again occupied until Classic Hall was ready. In 1859 it was deeded to the Hanover Presbyterian Church in final settlement of an account [Page 131] which had stood since 1837, with the reservation of the right of the College to have the use of the building at any time for public functions.

The first step taken toward the present plant was the amendment of the charter to read, "in or near the village of Hanover," in order that the Trustees might legally acquire the present site, which has always been outside the corporate limits of the village. A committee was appointed comprising President Thomas, Williamson Dunn and Wm. McKee Dunn, to "accept a contract for what is known as the Campbell Farm, and to consummate the same," Dr. Thomas having already secured an option. The consideration was $4,500. The farm contains approximately two hundred acres overlooking the Ohio River, about one-half of this land being table land, and the other half consisting of rugged bluffs, hillsides and ravines, which have been permitted to remain in their native condition, partly for their wild beauty, and partly for their scientific value as sources of geological and biological material. No region in all the country is richer in its variety of plant and bird life, and geological students come from the universities to study the formations on the edge of the campus. And no other tract, of equal size, has so many varieties of native American trees. Professor Garritt reports that, "It was proposed to retain the entire farm, to lay off lots upon which the Board may hereafter build houses for their professors, together with lots for a botanical garden, and for ornamental purposes." The entire farm has been retained, a number of houses for professors have been provided, but the botanical garden is not yet realized. Professor Garritt also says,"This general action was surely an exhibition of faith, hope and confidence in the future of the College, worthy of admiration, for as yet there was not a dollar provided [Page 132] for the erection of the College building, nor even one for the purchase of the farm."

The second acquisition of ground has already been referred to in connection with the administration of Dr. Wood. In 1862 he purchased all the ground owned by the College west of the line marked by Morse Lane, for the sum of $525 and donated it to the institution. The many hundreds of students who have grown up in the halls and classrooms of Old Classic will enjoy Dr. Garritt's rather lengthy account of the trials and tribulations of its builders.

"In accordance with the resolution of the Board, Dr. Thomas went to Philadelphia and to New York in the fall of 1851 and saw many of the pastors of prominent churches in those cities, obtained a commendation of the cause from Dr. Potts, Dr. Spring, Dr. Krebbs, Dr. J. W. Alexander and others; put forth an appeal to the Eastern Christians in behalf of the College and its needs, and with the help of Mr. Eastman, the agent succeeded in raising about six thousand dollars. In hopes of soon being able to begin the building, the executive committee of the Board, viz, Dr. Thomas, Revs. T. S. Crowe, J. C. Eastman, Judge Williamson Dunn and John L. Scott, Esq., with the addition of Wm. M. Dunn, James Blake and Rev. J. G. Monfort were 'constituted a Building Committee to have charge of the whole subject of a new building.'

"At a meeting of the Board in April, 1852, by a resolution, 'the Building Committee was directed at as early a day as practicable, to determine upon a plan for a College Building, and to have such part of the work as in their judgment, the prospect of funds may justify, put under contract by the first day of June next.' (1852.)

"At the same time 'the Executive Committee was instructed to lay out the College lands into lots and to expose the same to sale as soon as in their judgment it can be done with advantage to the College.'

[Page 133] "In accordance with the above resolution, the Executive Committee entered into a contract with Messrs. Cochran and Pattie, a responsible firm of architects of Madison, Indiana. The plans for the new building which were adopted, according to the estimates of the architects, called for an expenditure of $16,000 or $18,000. As the above mentioned amount of $6,000 obtained in the East was not a sufficient amount of money on hand, the agent, Mr. Eastman, was directed to cease for a time his efforts for the Endowment Fund and to 'devote himself under the direction of the Executive Committee to raising funds and subscriptions for the Building Fund.' The Board also directed their agent to sell 'temporary scholarships,' i. e. for a donation or subscription bearing interest, of $50, to promise tuition for five years, and for $100 tuition for ten years. The efforts of the agent were in a measure successful, and he was able to report at a meeting of the Board in January, 1853, that 'something over $3,000 had been subscribed since their last meeting.'

"With faith that the farther prosecution of the agency would prove so successful as to justify going forward with the work, 'the Executive Committee was directed to make arrangements for the laying of the cornerstone of the College Edifice.' There is no record of any exercises on that occasion, nor is it known what they were, nor certainly that any were held. Ground, however, was broken for the new building in the spring of 1853, and the basement story was put up of stone quarried within a stone's throw from the spot.

"The Board also at its January meeting in 1853 authorized the Executive Committee to borrow such an amount not exceeding $5,000, as 'may be necessary to put the building under contract,' and also to secure additional agencies for raising funds if necessary. The $5,000 were borrowed from the State Sinking Fund, and a mortgage was given upon the College to secure it. It was not until 1867 that the Board suc- [Page 134] ceeded in paying this loan in full. The borrowing of it was made necessary by the failure of the Synod of Indiana to redeem a pledge made to the College. After the return of Dr. Thomas from the East with the $6,000 above mentioned, the 'Board reported to the Synod of Indiana, which met at Franklin, the progress of the College, the state of the funds, and asked advice; whether they should suspend operations, or depending on the liberality of the churches, go forward.' The unanimous vote of the Synod was: 'Go Forward,' pledging at the same time their churches for $15,000 during the year. This pledge was not, however, redeemed.

"The work on the building, was, in accordance with the action of the Synod, carried in the faith of promises made, and of the interest of the churches of Indiana in the enterprise. Before the work had progressed far, however, it became apparent that 'though the plan of the architects was strictly followed, the cost of the building would be at least double the original estimate.'

"In April of 1854 the work had progressed to such an extent that the Literary Societies, with the consent of the Board, agreed upon their respective Halls and Library rooms. At the same time the President of the Board, Dr. Crowe, and the President of the College, Dr. Thomas 'were appointed a Committee to make any preparations necessary for services connected with the dedication of the College Edifice.' This was somewhat premature, as the funds were not coming in as expected, and the work progressed but slowly.

"In August the Board decided to secure another loan of $5,000, if possible, and to turn whatever real estate had come into their hands into available funds. This loan does not seem to have been secured, and in the spring of 1855 the Board resolved to suspend work on the college building on terms which should be satistfactory to the contractors. This was done in order to give all attention to the raising of the Endowment [Page 135] Fund for the relief of the professors. How long the work was suspended is not known.

"To add to the difficulties of the situation, the crops of 1855 were 'almost an entire failure, and the agent of the College had very little success, either in obtaining new subscriptions or in collecting old ones, although by a special resolution in this crisis, Mr. James Blake, of Indianapolis, was asked to unite his efforts with the agent in whatever way he might think best, in order to relieve the College from its embarrassments. In this emergency the Board entered upon the expedient, (the wisdom of which is doubtful), of loaning the endowment fund to the building fund, expecting the collections for the latter fund to furnish the means to pay the interest regularly upon the amount borrowed, and ultimately to refund the principal. The following resolution will clearly show the animus of the Board. 'Resolved, that hereafter the Treasurer pay annually to the Contingent Fund from the Building Fund interest on all monies borrowed from the Permanent Fund.'

"As the building neared completion, moreover, the contractors, Messrs. Cochrane and Pattie, of Madison, felt themselves compelled to levy upon other amounts of the endowment fund for their pay. As the law recognized no distinction between the various funds of the College, several thousands of dollars of that fund were thus absorbed. That the Board absolved Messrs. Cochrane and Pattie from any charge of harsh measures in the procedure is evident from the following resolution passed shortly before, in April, 1855:

" 'Resolved, that the Board deem it due to Messrs. Cochrane and Pattie to express to them the grateful sense which they entertain of the forbearance which they have exercised toward the Board in its pecuniary embarrassments, and the purpose of the Board, as speedily as possible to pay what is due them.' And a few months later the Executive Committee was directed to effect an arrangement with them by which [Page 136] work on the College Edifice might go on to completion, if possible, and they were authorized to settle with them.

"The College Building thus cost nearly $43,000, of which over $27,000 was obtained in various ways from the Endowment Fund, to the great distress of the Faculty, and almost of the College. The building was finally completed in 1856, and was occupied for college purposes in the fall of 1857 with appropriate exercises.

"Whether the action of the Board in reference to the erection of the New College Building, and the use of the Endowment Fund was wise and justified or not, is a question which the writer does not feel called upon to discuss; and it has received different answers. Certainly we must admit the honesty of the purpose of the Board, which was indicated by a resolution adopted in April, 1856, directing the Treasurer to secure a policy of insurance upon the College Edifice to the amount of $10,000 'in order to the greater security of the Permanent Fund, loaned to the Building Fund." We must also admit and admire the zeal for Education and for the glory of God of those who inaugurated and carried through those plans; and must not forget the almost insuperable difficulties which had to be met and overcome. It is also to be noted, too, that the wisest business men obtainable, were upon the Board of Trustees.

"In any case we rejoice now in the possession of a noble College Building, commodious, substantial, and excellently suited for the purpose for which it was built."

During the administration of President Fisher, Classic Hall was remodeled at a cost of some ten thousand dollars by the Moffett family of Madison. Prior to that time Donnell Chapel had been completed through the generosity of Mrs. Sallie Donnell. Re- [Page 137] cently minor changes have been made in the way of new heating and sanitary equipment.

The "Y.M.C.A. Building," the chapel in which the Christian Associations hold their services, was erected in 1883, at a modest cost. The funds were secured for the most part by student solicitation. This building has the distinction of being the first campus structure of its kind in the world.

The College Point House, the dormitory for young women, was erected during the administration of Dr. Fisher. It did not prove a profitable venture, until it was renovated in 1908, steam heat and sanitary equipment installed, and refurnished. Since then it has been filled to capacity. In 1921 an addition doubling the capacity and containing a large dining hall was added.

In order to correct a misconception of the history of the Observatory we quote from Dr. Fisher's Human Life:

"The Observatory, with its excellent telescope and other equipment, is the fruit in some measure of a sort of accident. A gentleman, living not far away, was an amateur astronomer and for his own gratification he had procured a telescope sufficient for his purposes. At his death it became necessary for his executor to dispose of the instrument, and as the sum required to purchase it was not large, we of the college thought it a good opportunity to secure this as an addition to our scientific outfit. We supposed that we had gone so far toward bargaining for it, that all we yet needed to do was to arrange satisfactorily for payment; but at that stage of the proceedings we learned that a friend of another college had bought it for that institution. We regarded ourselves as badly treated, but after remonstrating with the proper persons, we dropped the matter. Our treatment put us on our mettle, and we went to work and raised enough money [Page 138] to enable us to have a first-class instrument of good size built by one of the best firms in the United States, and to erect the observatory in which it is housed. Thus we converted our defeat into a triumph."

We also let Dr. Fisher tell the story of the Old Science Hall and of Hendricks Library:

"Science Hall (1897) was the realization of long deferred hopes. Our equipment for the study of the physical sciences was pitifully small. The strange thing in connection with this is that the College had nevertheless sent out as graduates such men as Dr. John M. Coulter, now the head of the Biological department of Chicago University, and Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, head of the Bureau of Chemistry at Washington, and others almost as eminent in the physical sciences. This is only another illustration of the fact so often exemplified, that it is not great laboratories, so much as the superior guidance by teachers and intelligent interest on the part of the pupils, that start students in this field on the road to high achievement. Yet it is one thing to hold to this conviction, and it is quite another to win or retain students, with nothing to put at the command of the professor and of them, save an old, dark, badly ventilated room in the basement of the 'Main Building.' The Board, at my earnest and repeated solicitation, decided to try to raise enough money to erect a good Science Hall. For this it was necessary to send out an agent, and on my recommendation, Rev. Alexander Dunn was chosen. To this singularly self-sacrificing man the College owes a debt of gratitude which it can never adequately repay. Not only did he persist in this undertaking until it was crowned with complete success, but year after year, ever since, almost continuously, he has served in raising funds, as requested of him, and under conditions that would repel almost any other competent man. His gentleness and persistence had enabled him to succeed in cases that looked almost hopeless. As to [Page 139] Science Hall, the way to the realization of our hopes was opened by the unsolicited gift of $5,000 by John H. Holliday, of Indianapolis, one of the members of the Board of Trustees, and the goal reached through another gift of the same amount by United States Senator Brice, of Ohio, whose father was a graduate of Hanover, and whom he desired thus to commemorate. The stately room in the building used as a museum, is called Brice Hall. The erection and equipment of Science Hall was one of the greatest steps forward taken by the College under my administration. Both as to its plan and in its building it had my careful superintendence.

"Of the entirely new buildings, the latest under my administration was the 'Thomas A. Hendricks Library.' (1905). Vice-President Hendricks, when a poor boy had come to Hanover College to obtain an education. Because he had not the financial means, he did not remain to finish his course, though afterward he received a diploma. At his death he left a considerable estate, and inasmuch as they had no children, it became a question with his widow as to what disposition she should make of their property. I think that it was Mr. Dunn who somehow first turned her attention to Hanover College. By and by, one of the trustees, as well as myself, had interviews with her; and by invitation she made a visit to the institution, and was a guest in our home; and she went away evidently much pleased. Still she moved slowly, especially perhaps because she was an Episcopalian, and strong influences were brought to bear upon her to turn her benefactions in the direction of the specific interests of that denomination. At one time we thought that our prospects were very poor; and at another we were strongly assured that she would make the College her residuary legatee, and heir to a large part of her property. Finally she decided to erect the Library as a memorial to her husband; and for that purpose she then placed in my hands a large portion of the total she agreed to give, and so obligated herself legally [Page 140] for the remainder that no question as to her will in case of her death before it was paid, could jeopardize it. Greatly to our regret she did not live to see the beautiful edifice completed, for the construction of which she generously provided. This Library was meant by her to be the chief visible monument to her distinguished husband."

New Year's night, 1919, the Old Science Hall with all its contents was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. In spite of some opposition within the Board because of unfavorable economic conditions, it was decided to rebuild at once, and to make the new building of fireproof construction. The New Science Hall was ready for occupation in September, 1920.

The first gymnasium was erected by Dr. Fisher. This burned in February, 1908. A new and larger building was placed on the same site that year. The growth of the College made the structure inadequate and in 1922 the Trustees entered into a contract with Messrs. P. E. Goodrich, W. H. Miller, Elmer E. Scott, James E. Taggart and W. A. Millis, under the name of "W. A. Millis, Et Al." under which these gentlemen rebuilt the gymnasium along its present lines at their own expense, executing a sale lease to the College that enabled the Trustees to buy it back as funds became available. This transaction was completed in 1925.

The College owns five residences. The President's house was erected by Dr. Heckman in 1876 on a plot of ground set aside for that official's personal use, amounting to twelve acres. President Millis has relinquished all of this except the lawns and garden immediately connected with the residence. The plot restored to the campus has been set to native trees, and will be held as a parkway between the two sections of the campus.

[Page 141] "Two residences, the "Howk House" and the "Charlton Place," were acquired by purchase for use of professors. A small frame structure built by Dr. Fisher, for the use of the Music Department, has been rebuilt into a frame residence. The "Archer House" also has been converted into a duplex, and is occupied by two Faculty families. The small residence erected on the only lot sold under the Board's resolution of 1850 was repurchased upon the death of the owner. Two fraternity houses and two residences have been built on lots sold out of the College grounds, with provisions in the deeds giving the Trustees an option of purchase if put on sale. The present inventory of the College plant, exclusive of income-producing property, is as follows:

The Campus............................$3,000.00
Classic Hall..........................75,000.00
Science Hall..........................55,000.00
Hendricks' Library....................35,000.00
Water Plant............................5,000.00
Laboratory Apparatus...................7,187.00
Y.M.C.A. Hall..........................1,000.00
Materials, Supplies, Tools and


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