The University of Georgia's Old College is the oldest building on the university's campus. Throughout it's life, Old College has been utilized as dormitories, classrooms, a hospital and refuge, military barracks, and an administration building. Due to it's age, Old College has gone through a series of renovations over the years, and is now the location of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Although altered from its original structure, the building still stands as a significant landmark of the University of Georgia's history.
The establishment of Old College was introduced by the first
acting president of the University of Georgia, Josiah Meigs in 1801. Before the
plans for building Old College, the University of Georgia constructed
classes in a temporary wooden building. Josiah Meigs saw the establishment of
Old College as an opportunity to make the University of Georgia the Yale of the South. In fact, the
original plans for Old College were influenced by Yale’s Connecticut Hall. Upon
its completion in 1806, the university now had a permanent building to be
used as dormitories and classrooms. Originally named Franklin Hall, after
Benjamin Franklin, the building name was changed to Old College after the
completion of New College in 1825.
While Old College was utilized as dormitories, notable
people in history inhabited them. Alexander H. Stephens, the 50th
governor of Georgia and Vice President of the Confederate States, and Dr.
Crawford W. Long, creator of anesthesia, were roommates in Old College. Due to
their significance, a plaque is placed in the northeast corner near the second
floor of Old College to mark their relevance to the building.
During the Civil War, the University of Georgia was closed
due to the number of students joining the military. At this time, buildings on
campus were utilized for the war effort. Old College, in particular, was used
as a hospital and to house refugees from coastal cities like Savannah,
Charleston, and New Orleans. When the university reopened in 1866, Old College
resumed its previous purpose as a residence hall.
By the start of the 20th century Old College was
in a state of disrepair but was still being utilized as dormitories. By 1908,
Old College was listed as “old and
vacant” and was in threat of being demolished to expand the university. However,
due to students at the university, Old College was preserved and kept
its location on campus.
During WWII, Old College was no longer utilized as student
dormitories. Much of the campus was transferred over to the U.S. Navy as a
pre-flight school for cadets, and Old College was used as barracks for them. By
the end of WWII, the University of Georgia was handed back to the state, but
Old College would no longer be used for dormitories. In 1947, it was announced
that Old College would house administrative offices for the increasing number
of administrative staff.
By the early 2000s, Old College was in need of another
renovation. Due to the approaching bicentennial of the building, renovation of the building began again and was completed in 2006. Since then, Old College has
been the location of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and includes one classroom to increase the amount of students on North Campus.