You probably heard about President Barack Obama’s recent appearance at Knox, but he isn’t the only sitting U.S. president to ever set foot on campus. Did you know that President Benjamin Harrison was here in 1890 to lay the cornerstone for Alumni Hall?
At least, he laid one of its three cornerstones. What we know today as Alumni Hall originally was three separate buildings. Each got a cornerstone and a cornerstone-laying ceremony. Alumni Hall actually is just the middle part of the structure.
The west wing is Adelphi, and the east wing is Gnothautii — both names of men’s literary societies on campus. The societies helped pay for the construction of what we now call Alumni Hall. The three parts of the building (Adelphi, Alumni Hall, and Gnothautii) were completely separate, and you couldn’t get from one to the other unless you stepped outside.
Of the three cornerstone-laying ceremonies, the most well-known, and probably the most popular, involved Harrison. He already was in town for a military reunion with men from the brigade he’d commanded in the Civil War, so it was easy for him to stop by Knox, too. While in Galesburg, he also met up with his Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers from Knox and Lombard colleges — the Delta and Zeta chapters — and told them that a person’s college days “are the days that affect the whole future.”
Harrison laid the Alumni Hall cornerstone on October 8, 1890, and a tremendous group of veterans, Knox students and faculty, Galesburg residents, and other folks showed up. In all, the crowd numbered about 10,000!
Here’s a look at Alumni Hall’s north side from what we think is around the turn of the 20th century. Do you think that post on the lower left, on a brick paved South Street, is for tying up horses?
To kick off the transformation of Alumni Hall, we are hosting a contest! The prize? A tour of Alumni Hall before the makeover! This contest will be online only and hosted on our social media sites. To enter, either retweet the @knoxcollege1837 tweet about the contest or write a comment on Knox College’s Facebook post about it by Saturday October 5th. There will be six winners, three from each site, with the tour at 3:30 p.m. on October 8. This contest is for current students, friends of the College, and any alumni willing to make a trip back to their alma mater. Those selected will receive emails on Sunday the 6th and they must respond to them within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. Good luck!
Major renovation work on Alumni Hall has begun! By fall 2014, the journey from prospective student to alumna/us of this historic institution will begin and end with Alumni Hall.
Inside the transformed building, the Knox community can look forward to these offices and centers:
- Office of Admission
- Class of 1963 Office of Financial Aid
- Bastian Family Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development
- Alumni Relations
- Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study
- Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies
- Mark and Jeannette Kleine Center for Community Service
- Lincoln Studies Center
- Dick and Joan Whitcomb Heritage Center
Read more about the transformation of Alumni Hall.