“Our College Home”
For over 75 years after its construction, Main Building was the only building of consequence on campus. Until the building of Fitzgerald Hall (a dormitory) in 1912, Main Building contained all the functions of the campus: administrative offices, classrooms, dorm rooms, kitchen, dining room, chapel, etc. Main Building was Greensboro College for the longest period of time.
Main Building has not only served as the heart of the campus, but also as the soul of the college. Over the past 150 plus years, Main Building has touched the lives of more than 8,000 alumni. Main Building has also faced the tests of time: mischievous young pupils, war, and fire.
The poem Our College Home by Miss Letha Brock (Class of 1913) remains representative of the depth of emotion and sentiment which so many alumni have for Greensboro College and Main Building.
1st Main Building
|1837||Forty acres of land was bought for the college.|
|1843||The cornerstone of Main Building was laid in September.|
|1845||The brick building was completed during the summer at a cost of $20,000. It was three stories high and had 36 rooms.|
|1846||On April 15, the doors opened to young female students for the first time.|
|1856||The West Wing was started in May of 1856 and completed in 1857.|
|1859||Construction of an East Wing was begun in May.|
|1861||Although not yet fully completed, the East Wing was usable. The entire building had the capacity to board 175 students.|
|1860s||The women of Greensboro Female College contributed to the Civil War effort by collecting blankets, making food and wrapping bandages for soldiers.|
|1863||Around midnight on August 9, a fire broke out in the kitchen and Main Building burned as the fire spread.|
|1863-64||Plans were made for the building’s reconstruction, but the Civil War and its economic repercussions prevented the immediate rebuilding of Main. Also, the Federal Army procured a large amount of the building supplies, including lumber, which had been bought. Dr. Turner M. Jones, the college’s president from 1854-1890, managed to keep the administration functional and intact over the next ten years.|
|1869||A new charter for Greensboro Female College was secured.|
Reconstruction of Main Building, circa 1871.
2nd Main Building
|1870||Reconstruction of Main Building began.|
|1873||On August 27, almost 10 years to the day after the 1863 fire, second Main Building was reopened. This new building was not reopened without some sadness, for on March 10, Rev. William Barringer, who was supervising the construction, had fallen thirty feet from a gangway and was killed. The new building had the capacity to house 200 students and nine teachers in a total of 84 rooms.|
|1886||The number of faculty was increased to 15.|
|1904||At approximately 2 a.m. on February 18, Main Building burned for the second time. The cause of that fire remains unknown.|
An unknown artist’s depiction of the 1904 fire.
The reconstruction of Main Building in 1904.
3rd Main Building
|1904||The rebuilding of Main began on July 9 and was completed by October 12 due to an outpouring of support. A large storied rotunda was added to the front of Main. The rotunda rested on a series of Doric columns, which created a circular porch on the bottom level. The rotunda’s porch quickly became a favorite place of many students.|
|1917||A fountain, a gift from the Class of 1917, was added to the front of Main Building.|
|1918||Third floor of Main Building was used as an infirmary during the influenza outbreak.|
|1941||On September 9, Main Building caught fire for the third time when lightning struck the cupola atop the rotunda at around 1:20 a.m. Henry B. McEntire, the head of the Business Office, and Dr. Luther Gobbel, the college’s president from 1935-1952, tried to save some documents from the fire. Mr. McEntire was killed instantly when a section of the roof collapsed on him.|
The rotunda was destroyed during the 1941 fire.
4th Main Building
(A relatively early picture.)
|1942||Main Building was once again rebuilt. Reconstruction was completed in time for the fall semester. Over the strenuous objections of many alumnae, the rotunda was replaced with a four-column portico due to a lack of money.|
|1990s||Skylights, which can be seen in early pictures of the fourth Main Building, were removed when the old slate roof was replaced.|
|Present||Since it was rebuilt in 1942, the configuration and structure of Main Building has remained largely unchanged. Main Building continues to house administrative and business offices, hosts a variety of special events, and is the location of the Brock Historical Museum of Greensboro College.|
(From the “Collected works of Letha Brock”)
To thee, to thee, we bring our praise;
With thee are spent our happiest days.
No matter what, in after years
Shall come to pass, whether joy or fears,
Yet to thy name shall always cling
Blessed, holy memories.
Though in thy youth, misfortune’s blast
Twice wrecked thy wall with crackling flames,
‘Twas these alone which perished then,
And not thine old and honored name.
Beneath the trials which thou hast borne
Thy proud head may have bowed,
Yet now with courage strong, in turn,
It towers toward the clouds.
As one on whom the cares of life
Have left no mark of age,
Thou stand’st undaunted by the fiercest storm,
Which above thy head may rage.
And if in the years that are to come
Thy stately walls shall fall,
Thy influence still lives on and on
To guide us one and all.
May the joys which lie before thee
Be the best thou has ever borne;
May the gifts which thou hast given
Redound to thee, our college home.