American colleges have a lot to be proud of. The US college education system is second to none. And it’s been able to build its reputation in a considerably shorter time frame than many other countries. But there is still plenty of heritage to be found on American college campuses. For instance, many US colleges have amazing old buildings that rival anything found in Europe’s historic universities.
The advantage of studying in a college with some amazing old architecture should be obvious. Colleges with picturesque buildings have the ability to inspire students every day. They reinforce the feeling that people are heading for an amazing outcome and will succeed. They give people a “wow” factor whenever they see it. And they allow imaginative students to whisk themselves away to another time and place, which can help with the more mundane aspects of study.
But which old college buildings in America are the best for achieving the above mindset? There are many fine choices across the country, but this list has discovered the best of the best. The buildings found below are both beautiful and have been the teaching places of many prominent people throughout American history.
Any of the colleges in this list has an old building that looks incredible. For someone that craves a college with a historic air, the choices are perfect. But it’s also possible that something else about the colleges will make them not right for you. For example, perhaps the colleges don’t have your desired major. If that’s the case, then this list is still useful, as you can use it to compare to your own college choices. If any of your options have a college building similar to one of those listed below, then you’ll probably be satisfied!
The research for this list has been exhaustive. We’ve consulted a wide range of other articles that discuss old colleges in the USA and then cross-referenced their claims with the colleges themselves. Our sources are as follows:
History News Network, The Oldest University Buildings in America: https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/148086
Niche, The 25 Oldest Colleges in America: https://www.niche.com/blog/the-25-oldest-colleges-in-america/
Top Universities/QS, 10 of the Oldest Universities in the US: https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/10-oldest-universities-us
Ranker, Oldest Universities In The US: https://www.ranker.com/list/infoplease_s-oldest-us-universities/web-infoguy
UniRank, The Oldest Colleges in the United States: https://www.4icu.org/us/oldest/
We’ve sorted through the articles above and 50 different college websites to find the most iconic old college buildings in America so that you don’t have to. Our final list has been ranked as follows: age of the building, evidence of the building being useful to the college and acclaim for the building.
Our results, from 50 to one, are below:
50. University of Maryland, Morrill Hall
College Park, Maryland
In 1912, a huge fire destroyed much of University of Maryland. The only academic building that survived this disaster was Morrill Hall. This building had been constructed in 1898 for the price of $24,000. While originally housing the science department, the fire has meant that almost all departments of the University of Maryland have relied on the building at some point. The building currently houses the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Maryland Population Research Center. Morrill Hall also draws many paranormal experts in to investigate for the presence of ghosts.
49. Union College, Grant Hall
Schenectady, New York
While Union College traces its foundation back to 1795, its oldest surviving building dates to over 100 years later. Grant Hall was constructed from 1895 to 1898. Originally, it housed the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and was named after this group. Eventually, the fraternity’s lease on the building expired and fell into occupancy of the college itself. Union College decided to completely renovate this building and re-purpose it as the college’s admissions center, a role it still serves today. The building recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation.
48. Saint Louis University, Dubourg Hall
Saint Louis, Missouri
When Saint Louis University moved from a downtown campus to a semi-rural campus in 1888, Dubourg Hall became the home for everything in the college, from the students to the library. Today, the surroundings have become entirely urban, and the building only accommodates Saint Louis University’s administrative staff members. Since being founded, Dubourg Hall has seen many interesting and even bizarre events occur within its walls. For instance, the most famous exorcism of the 20th century happened on its fourth floor in the year 1949. The room in which it happened is now sealed off from use.
47. Columbia University, Buell Hall
New York City, New York
Buell Hall started life as a completely separate entity from Columbia University. It was built in 1885 as an insane asylum for the wealthy, named Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. However, the building was put up for sale in the mid-1890s. Columbia purchased the building in 1895. The entirety of the college’s current campus came about because of this purchase. In the present day, Buell Hall has multiple uses. Most prominently it houses La Maison Francaise, “the oldest French cultural center established on an American university campus.” It also has the Temple Hoyne Center for the Study of American Architecture, the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery and the HQ for Japanese Architectural Studies and Advanced Research.
46. Nichols College, Academy Hall
Nichols College’s first college building burned down in 1818, before it had even been completed. The second building was more successful but soon became too small to be practical. In 1881, Academy Hall was built to offer the college all the space it needed. Initially, it contained one schoolroom, two recitation rooms, an exhibition room, and a basement gymnasium. It has had several extensions, including a new gym being built in 1891 and a two-story addition in 1958. In the present day, it has eight classrooms, the Office of the Registrar, the Office for Learning Services, the First Year Advising Center and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.
45. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Historic Landmark Building
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is currently in its third building. Its first building lasted from 1805 to 1845, when it burned down. The second building opened in 1847, but by 1870 the academy had outgrown this space. Finally, in 1876, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts moved in to its current building, the Historic Landmark Building, in 1876. Many consider the Historic Landmark Building to be one of the greatest Victorian Gothic buildings in the USA. Some have likened its appearance to a decorated jewel box.
44. University of Tennessee, South College Hall
University of Tennessee’s heritage took a blow in 2018, with its second oldest building, Estabrook Hall, being demolished. Luckily, its oldest surviving building, South College Hall, still stands. When it was constructed in 1872, South College Hall provided classrooms and administrative offices. It would, at different times, become the home of the college’s School of Law, the German Department, the Psychology Department, campus book store, post office, and radio station. It even had an armory in its basement for several years. South College had been slated for demolition three times during the college’s history, but these plans never came to fruition.
43. University of Louisville, Gardiner Hall
Gardiner Hall’s original use had nothing to do with the University of Louisville. It was originally constructed in 1871 as a house of refuge for girls. However, the building still retains some of its original purpose today. As well as being a dean’s office, advising center, expressive therapies center and family therapies center, it’s also the home of the college’s women’s center. And thanks to all of its many innovative functions, students of any background are able to make use of it.
42. Spalding University, Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion
Although Spalding University itself was founded in 1920, its primary building is somewhat older. The Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion was built in 1871. When the college occupied it in 1920, it had been vacated for two years. The total cost of purchasing this mansion was $75,000. In the present day, the Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion is a professional building that still contains many references to its previous life as a residence for the wealthy. For instance, it has a hand tooled leather ceiling from Florence. The college extended the building in 1942, adding administration offices. Spalding University is planning to extensively renovate the building in 2020.
41. University of Pennsylvania, College Hall
University of Pennsylvania is considerably older than College Hall. However, the college abandoned its old campus in 1871 with the completion of this building. And still to this day, College Hall houses University of Pennsylvania’s president’s office, admissions office, and School of Arts and Sciences. College Hall is notable due to its interesting color tone. This is down to its architect’s use of many different materials when constructing the building, which includes brown and yellow sandstone, mica schist, serpentine, and granite. College Hall is in the center of the now sprawling University of Pennsylvania campus.
40. Willamette University, Waller Hall
In 2017, Waller Hall’s occupants celebrated the 150th anniversary of the building’s completion. That makes it the oldest university building west of the Mississippi River that is still being used in America. In many ways, it’s amazing that Willamette hall has survived for so long, as just five years after its completion, a fire destroyed all of Willamette University’s other buildings. Additionally, The building itself suffered from fires in 1891 and 1919, with both causing extensive damage. Luckily, it was restored in both instances. Today, Waller Hall serves as the president’s office, registrar’s office, financial aid office, and student account’s office.
39. Franklin & Marshall College, Old Main
In 1856, when Old Main finished construction, the building had cost a total of $25,136.52 ½, a large sum for the time. But the Gothic revival building has proven to be worth the cost, as, over the years, it’s served as a lecture hall, army barracks, as well as offices for the president and the administrative services. In the present day, it still has the administrative offices and president’s office, but it also now includes a lecture and recital hall as well as a publications office.
38. University of South Carolina, Beaufort, Beaufort College Building
Bluffton, South Carolina
The Beaufort College Building represents a college rising from terrible circumstances to make something incredible. In 1817, Beaufort College suffered from a terrible outbreak of yellow fever, killing one-third of the students and making the college abandon its building, which was later destroyed. But in the 1850s, the college’s attendance began to increase again, allowing it to fund a new building. The current Beaufort College Building was constructed from 1852 to 1855. After the civil war, Beaufort College closed, but the building was still used for educational purposes, including for freed slaves and elementary education. University of South Carolina, Beaufort purchased the building in 1959. It currently serves as administrative offices.
37. Colby College, The Hill House
While Colby College itself dates back to 1813, a campus relocation in the 1930s meant that most of its buildings were constructed in the 20th century. But one building on the Mayflower Hill campus existed before Colby College’s arrival. This is Mayflower Hill, which was built in 1850. Prior to the college taking over the building, it had been the guest house of the Morrell Family. Once Colby College moved in, it became the residence for the superintendent of buildings and grounds. It now serves as a guest house once again, with the college renting rooms out from $70 per night to $80 per night.
36. Tusculum University, President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library
Nine whole buildings within Tusculum University’s campus are on the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest of these is the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library, which is also the oldest academic college building in the entire state of Tennessee. It was built in 1841 and originally served as the primary building for teaching and living on campus. Today, the building contains Tusculum College’s archives and houses exhibits of the Johnson family. However, at points, the building has been solely used as a dormitory, classrooms and faculty apartments.
35. Georgetown College, Giddings Hall
Giddings Hall was constructed to be the first permanent structure on the Georgetown College campus in 1841. The money to build Giddings Hall came from the people of Georgetown, Kentucky, as they wanted a college that would teach with a Baptist perspective. In the more than 150 years since its construction, the building is still an integral part of the college. It has undergone one major renovation, which happened in 1968. Today, it can be considered the HQ of Georgetown College, with the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Development Office, Alumni Office, College Relations and Marketing Office and Financial Aid Office all operating from the hall.
34. University of Michigan, President’s House
Ann Arbor, Michigan
In 1837, University of Michigan moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor. With this move, the college built four new buildings to comprise its new campus. Of those four buildings, only the President’s House survives. As the President’s House’s name suggests, its first role was to house the president of the college. In 1858, college President Erastus O. Haven added a kitchen and a third story to the building. However, the building would grow even more in future years. College President Angell added a whole west wing to the building in 1891. And in 1920, a sun parlor, sleeping porch, and garage with bedrooms were added. Then, in the 1930s, a new study and glass plant room were added. Finally, in the 1950s, a glassed-in porch and stone terrace also became part of the building. The building still serves as the home of the college president in the present day.
33. Transylvania University, Old Morrison
Of all the buildings in this list, Old Morrison must have the most diverse range of uses. It currently functions as “offices of the president and the academic deans, the Center for Academic and Professional Enrichment; administrative offices, including accounting, financial aid, communications, and the registrar’s office; a chapel; and the tomb of Transylvania’s eccentric nineteenth-century naturalist, Constantine Rafinesque.” If that weren’t enough, then it also hosts its home city of Lexington’s patriotic concert every year. But historically, it’s had even more uses. For example, in the Civil War, the Union army used it as a hospital for its troops. The building was constructed for the college from 1830 to 1834.
32. University of Delaware, Old College
Like several colleges on this list, the University of Delaware has the distinction of having taught some of America’s founding fathers. Unfortunately, none of the buildings from that era survive. Instead, University of Delaware’s oldest building is Old College, which was built in 1834 to serve the entire college. While the building itself hasn’t changed in appearance much since its construction, its immediate surroundings have. Prior to 2003, gigantic trees that were hundreds of years old lined the building. However, Hurricane Isabel destroyed them (but luckily left the building intact.) In the present day, University of Delaware uses Old College as an art gallery and also uses it to host events, such as food and wine festivals.
31. Washington College, William Smith Hall
While many American Colleges have suffered from fires, none have been so hard hit as Washington College. Its original building was reportedly immense for its time, but it burnt down in January 1827. Another building then sprang up in its place, but this also burned down. William Smith Hall was built in its place (no source gives an exact date for its construction, but some indicate that it must have been started after 1833 and completed by 1845. The reason for this is probably due to records being lost as a result of fires.) However, William Smith Hall also had a devastating fire in 1916. This time, the exterior of the building survived, and the interior was rebuilt in almost exactly the same way as it had been before the event. The current building offers students and staff seminar rooms, classrooms, faculty offices, and a theater.
30. Miami University, Elliott Hall
The Ohio based Miami University built Elliott Hall, its first residence hall, in 1828. In 2018, it is the oldest surviving building on campus. Its role has not changed much in almost 200 years. It still offers living spaces for college students. Its location in the center of campus makes it highly desirable for students. Despite its age, Miami University attendees will find that the building has every modern convenience. This is thanks to a 2012 renovation that ensured the building is top of the line.
29. Hampden-Sydney College, Cushing Hall
Hampden Sydney, Virginia
Hampden-Sydney College predates the United States of America by one year. But its oldest surviving building dates to 1824. Its function has remained the same for almost two hundred years, making it “the oldest continuously used four-story dormitory in the United States.” While this has remained the same, its interior and exterior have changed considerably. The first came in 1910 when the interior was modernized and porches and a slate roof were added to the exterior. In 1998, an interior modernization took place.
28. Allegheny College, Bentley Hall
The original building on Allegheny College’s Campus represents “a leading example of American architecture.” It was built in the 1820s and has always been an integral part of the college. For instance, every single year, seniors march through and out of the building during their commencement ceremony, symbolizing the adventures that they are heading into. Two alumni, Henry and Patricia Bush Tippie, recently gave the college $7 million for the preservation of the building, ensuring that Bentley Hall will be a mainstay on the campus for hundreds of years to come.
27. Washington and Lee University, Washington Hall
Lexington City, Virginia
Washington and Lee University’s original building, Liberty Hall, suffered from a huge fire in 1803. Luckily, the next primary college building constructed, Washington Hall, still stands. This building was built in 1822 and gained an eight foot tall carved wooden statue of George Washington that stood at the top of the building until 1990. After this date, the original was replaced with a bronze replica. The original is now in one of the college’s libraries. In 2012, Washington Hall completed a major restoration. The building is currently used for administrative offices, the president’s office and the college’s philosophy department.
26. Castleton University, Old Medical College Building
Castleton University considered its Old Medical College Building to be so important that when it moved campus in 1867, it took the structure with it. The building had been constructed in 1821 and originally served as the home of a different medical school, with Castleton University acquiring it years later. However, the Old Medical College building would make one more move. In 1968, the college’s administration decided to place it in a more efficient location. Today, the building is used for art history lectures.
25. United States Military Academy, Superintendent’s Quarters
West Point, New York
As United States Military Academy is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America, its Superintendent’s Quarters building has unique historical significance. It’s been on the site since 1820. As the building’s name suggests, it serves as the home for the superintendent of the United States Military Academy. This has been the case ever since it was first constructed. Additionally, the Superintendent’s Quarters building was built by Sylvanus Thayer whom the United States Military Academy considers to be “The Father of West Point”. Thayer shaped the discipline of the United States Military Academy and overhauled its curriculum while living in the building.
24. Ohio University, Cutler Hall
Cutler Hall is the “oldest building erected for higher education west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River.” But it almost never opened at all. Two years into its construction, in 1818, it was struck by lightning. The only thing that saved it from burning to the ground was torrential rainfall. It finally opened in 1819. Since opening, Cutler Hall has been a dormitory, classrooms, laboratories, a library, and a museum. It currently serves as the offices of the president, the provost, and other administrative personnel.
23. Middlebury College, Painter Hall
In 1810, Middlebury College held a contest for the design of its new academic building. The winner, Painter Hall, was then constructed from 1814 to 1816 for the sum of $8,000. The design of the building was modeled after a classic mill building. Thanks to this open design, the building has been put to many uses by the college. It has been a library, gymnasium, reading room, student dormitory and much more. It even housed the only bathrooms on campus for some time. In the present day, its sole function is as a student dormitory.
22. University of Maryland, Baltimore, Davidge Hall
Davidge Hall is the oldest surviving medical educational building in the Western Hemisphere. It was the first-ever building in the University of Maryland system and the fifth medical school in America. Since 1812, its domed, circular three-story design has taught some of the leading medical practitioners their craft. In the present day, it boasts “offices, museum artifacts, a conference room on the first floor, and two superimposed round amphitheaters (Chemical Hall and Anatomical Hall) with surrounding galleries with stadium-type seating and stepped aisles.”
21. Rutgers University, Old Queen’s
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Old Queen’s is named after the original version of Rutgers University, which was called Queen’s College. The celebrated architect John McComb was behind the construction of the building. However, it took many, many years to complete. Rutgers University was able to occupy a part of the building in 1811, but the entire structure wasn’t finished until 1825. Since this time, Old Queen’s has become a strong part of Rutgers’s identity. For instance, a popular campus superstition is that passing through one of the gates to Old Queen’s before graduation will result in the student not graduating on time. In the present day, Old Queen’s is used as the college’s administrative offices.
20. University of Georgia, Old College
In 2006, Old College at University of Georgia celebrated its 200th anniversary. This anniversary saw its purpose change for the last of many times since its completion. Initially, it was a student dormitory. Then it became classrooms, barracks and admin offices. But on its anniversary, it became offices for the dean of Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the associate vice president for Public Service and Outreach. The entire University of Georgia has grown around Old College, literally and figuratively. It was the college’s first constructed building and was originally named Franklin College, after the founding father Benjamin Franklin.
19. Dickinson College, Old West
Old West replaced a previous college building that burned down. It was built on the same site as the previous building in 1805. The current president of Dickinson College says, “You can’t walk by there without reflecting on the long history of the building, of what has gone on on those steps.” Currently, the building houses a memorial hall and a range of classrooms. It also plays a vital role in college traditions. For instance, first-year students walk up the steps and into the building’s Memorial Hall and sign in as students for the first time. And in commencement, students emerge from Memorial Hall with degrees in hand.
18. University of South Carolina, Rutledge College Building
Columbia, South Carolina
The story of the foundation University of South Carolina’s oldest surviving building sheds light on an American tragedy. Like many of the early structures on campus, Rutledge College was constructed by slave labor in 1805. And during the Civil War, the building was transformed from an academic institution to a hospital for Confederate soldiers. However, after the Civil War, Rutledge College was desegregated and the building was used to train African American teachers. Today, the building provides apartments for honors students attending the college.
17. University of Vermont, Grasse Mount
Grasse Mount was built in 1804, two years after the college’s first building, the appropriately named College Building. But College Building was completely destroyed by fire in 1824, leaving Grasse Mount the oldest survivor. However, the University of Vermont only acquired Grasse Mount in 1895, long after it had built and purchased other buildings. Prior to college acquisition, the building was the residence of a local merchant and then the governor of Vermont. Once the University of Vermont owned the building, Grasse Mount initially became a women’s dormitory. Today, it is the office of University Development and Alumni Relations.
16. Hamilton College, Azel Backus House
Clinton, New York
The oldest building on Hamilton College’s campus, Azel Backus House, has been a residence for most of its existence. When it was built in 1802, it was the primary boarding house for the college’s students. It later became the residence of the college president and then a set of apartments for the faculty. Eventually, it became an alumni house. But in 1984, it also became a faculty dining area. In the nineteenth century, the entire building was moved several hundred feet to be closer to the campus’s road.
15. Bowdoin College, Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall has the distinction of being the oldest college building in all of Maine (although, when it was built, in 1802, Maine was still technically part of the state of Massachusetts. In Bowdoin College’s early years, the building provided space for all of the college’s functions. It’s now the home of Bowdoin’s English department. However, Massachusetts Hall underwent some “extensive changes of both the interior and exterior,” in both 1873 and 1936. Nowadays, the interior of Massachusetts Hall is a mixture of old and new, with period fireplaces sitting alongside hi-tech audiovisual equipment.
14. Georgetown University, Old North
Old North was completed in 1795. In the more than 200 years of its existence, the building has seen many, many illustrious visitors, including Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S Grant, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. In fact, more than half of America’s presidents have been to the site. Nowadays, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy calls Old North home. In 2013, Old North underwent a major renovation, with its third floor being divided into a range of offices.
13. University of North Carolina, Old East
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
At the time of the Old East’s construction, in 1795, University of North Carolina was America’s first state university. Since this construction, a whole floor has been added to the building, and another extension has resulted in the building having its very own library. Old East’s current use is to house students and accommodates 67 people. As you may imagine, many students want to reside in this historic building. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it’s also in the heart of the college’s campus.
12. Washington and Jefferson College, McMillan Hall
Washington and Jefferson College’s Old Main building gets all of the acclaim of the college. This building has been the center of the college since 1836. But in fact, the college has a considerably older building on its campus, McMillan Hall. The modest McMillan Hall was built in 1793, and at one point it was the only building that the then Washington College owned (it would merge with Jefferson College later.) McMillan Hall houses the college’s president’s office, its communications office and its alumni and development office.
11. Williams College, West College
West College, which is now located in the center of campus, serves as one of the college’s upper-class residence halls. The building is older than the college that owns it, with West College dating back to 1790 compared to Williams College’s foundation in 1793. Over the years, West College has been a living quarters, a dining hall, a library and a chapel. It has since been stripped back in its uses to a dormitory once more. Its most recent renovation and refurbishment occurred in 1999 and cost over $850,000.
10. Saint John’s College, McDowell Hall
McDowell Hall is Saint John’s College’s oldest building, being finished in 1789. At the time, this building served “as the foundation for the college,” meaning that thanks to this structure, everything else on campus could appear around it. George Washington himself even praised the building and all that it inspired. In 1909, a devastating fire destroyed everything but McDowell Hall’s walls, meaning that it would have to be almost entirely rebuilt. Luckily, the college’s board members ultimately decided to keep the walls and restore the interior to be almost exactly as it was before the fire. In 2018, McDowell Hall underwent an interior renovation, reinvigorating its great hall, classrooms and cupola.
9. Salem College, Single Sisters House
Salem, North Carolina
Single Sisters House “stands as one of the most significant buildings in the history of women’s education in the United States.” That’s because it is the oldest surviving building of the “oldest school in the country dedicated to the education of women.” The college itself was established in 1772, and the building was built in 1785, making it both North Carolina’s oldest college building and the longest standing building to continuously be “associated with the education of girls and women.” The building underwent a loving restoration in 2005. Today, the building is still an important part of Salem College, housing offices, classrooms, meeting rooms and a museum.
8. Dartmouth College, Webster Cottage
Hanover, New Hampshire
While it may be an incredibly small part of Dartmouth’s campus, Webster Cottage has a large amount of the college’s history stored in its walls. It was built in 1780 and was the home of the daughter of the founder of the college. It has also housed many famous students, including the politician Daniel Webster, whom the cottage is now named after. In the present day, Webster Cottage is a museum run by the college. It opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. It houses many interesting historical antiques, such as a desk that belonged to Daniel Webster himself.
7. College of Charleston, President’s House
Charleston, South Carolina
The President’s House at the College of Charleston has changed only slightly in its function over the last three centuries. In 1770, it was constructed to house the reverend of St Philip’s Church. It’s still a house in the present day, but for the president of the college. However, in 2014, the building had to undergo repairs due to water leaks on the third floor. Despite this, the building has changed very little since its construction. The first floor even has a layout that is faithful to its nineteenth-century appearance.
6. Brown University, University Hall
Providence, Rhode Island
Unlike many other entries on this list, University Hall was its college’s first ever building. It was constructed by Brown University in 1770 and has stood the test of time. It played a role in the Revolutionary War by housing American troops and acting as a hospital for the French. Since this time, University Hall has undergone five major renovations, with the last one taking place in 1939. Its current layout is as follows: president’s office, vice president’s office on the first floor; deans’ offices, registrar’s office, admission offices on the second floor; and graduate offices and meeting rooms on the third floor.
5. Princeton University, Nassau Hall
Princeton, New Jersey
Not only is Nassau Hall Princeton University’s oldest building, but it’s also an important historic landmark of America. That’s because it was the venue for American Congress’s meetings for several months. Prior to this, the building was completed in 1756, for the College of New Jersey. At this time, it was the largest stone building in all of America. And during the Revolutionary War, the land around Nassau Hall was the scene of a bloody battle, which caused significant damage to the structure. In fact, the Battle of Princeton was a major turning point of the War, with George Washington triumphing over the British occupying Nassau Hall. Today, Nassau Hall serves as the administrative offices of Princeton’s president and as a meeting place.
4. Yale University, Connecticut Hall
New Haven, Connecticut
Connecticut Hall’s function has changed drastically since its completion. In 1752, it opened as a dormitory for students. But now it is a meeting hall and office space. And in many ways, Connecticut Hall is the only part of Yale where people can view its true history. That’s because it is “The only surviving building from the Old Brick Row.” However, even its exterior appearance has changed since these early days. Its original roof was removed and it underwent a significant expansion in 1797. In 1882, it underwent a second major remodeling.
3. Moravian College, Gemein House
Moravian College and its buildings have endured due to its progressive and welcoming approach to education. The Moravian denomination of the college believes that all people should be educated. That means that it had the first girls’ boarding school in America. Its oldest building still in use is Gemein House. It started out life in 1742 as the college’s central place of worship. But in 1751, another church opened, as the community had become too large for the building to accommodate. Today, the college runs it as the Moravian Museum. It’s believed to be the largest 18th century log structure to be in continuous use in the USA.
2. Harvard University, Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall in Harvard University allows students to do something amazing. They have the opportunity to live in the same space as many of the founding fathers of the United States. John Adams, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams are just a few of the people who once resided in this building. And while it was founded as a dormitory and still has this function, its use has expanded over the years. It is now also a lecture hall, an observatory, and administrative offices. And in 2018, Massachusetts Hall underwent a major renovation. These upgrades preserved the building’s historic appearance while adding an ADA compliant elevator, new bathrooms, insulated roofing and more. In 2020, Massachusetts Hall will celebrate its 300th birthday.
1. College of William and Mary, The Sir Christopher Wren Building
While Harvard’s founding predates College of William and Mary by almost 60 years, College of William and Mary has an older building still in use. The Wren Building’s completion dates back to 1700, but it began construction in 1695, just two years after College of William and Mary’s foundation. The Wren building has been through many changes since opening over 300 years ago. Fire has devastated the interior three times, in 1705, 1859 and 1862. And in 1999-2000 College of William and Mary gave the Wren Building a loving refurbishment, restoring its floors and paneling, as well as improving its integrity. Currently occupying the Wren Building are classrooms, faculty offices, and academic spaces.
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