Opened in 1892, Founders Hall is recognized as the oldest building still standing on the campus of Mars Hill University. Located on the university's upper quad, Founders Hall was the second building built on campus and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Opened over 120 years ago, Mars Hill University recognizes Founders
Hall as the oldest structure still standing on our campus today.
Described as modest and unappealing by former campus visitors and
historians, this century old building provides visitors few visible
clues to its true meaning and importance in the history of the
institution. During the 1890s, Mars Hill still consisted of only one a
large two-story brick building located directly in front of where
Founders Hall stands today. During this time, what has been labeled as
an internal crisis amongst the institutions leaders arose and caused
those associated with the school to worry about its future. These
concerns resolved themselves through the election of Thomas McDowell
Hufham as the institutions eleventh president in 1890. Founders Hall
would become the only building erected during President Hufham’s brief
tenure and remains today as a reminder of his impact on the campus.
The construction of Founders Hall would truly become a community
effort. First referenced in the minutes from the May 19, 1891 trustees
meetings in which they assigned J.S. Yeodes the task of designing the
site, Founders Hall represents the first attempted expansion of Mars
Hill since the end of the Civil War. School officials and community
members set out themselves to complete the project, molding and firing
the bricks used by hand and raising funds to purchases materials they
themselves could not furnish. In December 1891, school leaders placed
Lee B. Ramsey in charge of construction and building oversight. However,
despite the first part of the building opened to use in 1892,
construction to finish the project had ultimately stalled. In response
to this, George G. Tillery was assigned the task of overseeing
completion of the construction, which happened in the winter of 1893.
Simply known as a classroom building or the Music Building following its
construction, the building was renamed Founders Hall in 1978 and in
1990, a large scale renovation was completed that left the brick walls
as the only remaining original part of the building.