Constructed in 1903, Kauke Hall has long been the symbol of the College of Wooster and featured on college letterheads and logos. The College of Wooster was founded as a Presbyterian university in 1870. The college consisted of only one building in its early years. That building, known as Old Main, was destroyed by fire in 1901 and replaced by this Collegiate Gothic structure and four more buildings. Kauke Hall was built at the site of Old Main and named in honor of John Hauke, one of the college's founders and first trustees. The building was home to the humanities departments and classrooms as well as the administration in the early 1900s. In the 1910s, Wooster University became the College of Wooster when it decided to offer only undergraduate degrees. The college ended its formal relationship with the Presbyterian Church in 1969, though it continues a voluntary relationship today.
In 1865, Reverend James Reed came up with the idea to found a Presbyterian college in Wooster. Wooster resident Ephraim Quinby donated twenty-two acres of his land and Wayne County raised $100,000 for its construction. On December 18, 1886, the Presbyterian Synod authorized the creation of Wooster University, and over the next four years, a five-story building was erected. The building was originally nicknamed “the Bitters Bottle,” but is now better known as “Old Main.” It contained classrooms, a chapel, library, museum, office, eight coatrooms, and a laboratory.
On September 7, 1870, Wooster University’s first president, Willis Lord, welcomed thirty-four students and five professors to the new college. Lord declared that Wooster should be “not only a place of all studies, it should be a place of studies for all... The essential test of citizenship in the commonwealth of science and letters should be character, mental and moral quality, and attainment, not condition, race, color, or sex.” The school officially opened for classes the next day, and Wooster graduated six of its first students on June 28, 1871. In the coming decades, Wooster University added medical and preparatory departments, a graduate school, and a school of music and art.
On the morning of December 11, 1901, the Old Main chapel caught on fire. Soon, the whole structure was engulfed in flames, and it was destroyed. Only a year later, the university constructed five new buildings to replace it. The college’s first pipe organ, which was to be installed in Old Main, was moved to the Memorial Chapel and now forms the base of the Davis Memorial Organ at McGaw Chapel.
The University of Wooster became the College of Wooster sometime between 1914 and 1915 when faculty members voted to focus the institution on undergraduate studies and eliminate its graduate programs. Another change came circa 1930 when the college adopted the “Scots” as their mascot. Women’s teams were called the “Wooster Scotties” until 1987 when their name changed to the “Lady Scots.” Since the 2000s, they have also been known as the “Scots.”
In 1969, the Presbyterian Church released its ownership of the College of Wooster. Seniors were then no longer required to attend chapel; underclassmen later followed suit. Since then, the College of Wooster has maintained a voluntary relationship with the Presbyterian Church as an independent institution.