The school was located in a rented house paid for by Phoebe and the Christian Church of Kentucky, located near what is now Main Street in Morehead. The school officially opened in October 1887, with classes beginning October 3rd. On its first day in session, the Morehead Normal School operated with only one student, Annie Page; however, by the end of that same day they gained another official student in Ethel Bertie Hamm, a young woman who was reportedly eager to enroll in what she felt would be an institution which brought light to the mountains. The Morehead Normal School was one of twenty-five private normal schools established in Kentucky during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, all of which dedicated themselves to the enriching of future educators, and it quickly established itself as one of the most renown, garnering widespread interest.
In 1889, almost exactly two years after the school's opening, Thomas F. Hargis, the chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and a life-long resident of Morehead, donated four acres of land and around $500 to the Morehead Normal School. Both the land and money were used by Phoebe Button to build the school's first classroom building, located along what is now University Boulevard on Morehead State University's campus. The building was named Hargis Hall in honor of the donor who made its construction possible, and was erected at the end of 1889. Hargis Hall was a large, wooden, multi-story building, whose dedication marked a significant expansion for the Morehead Normal School.
The Morehead Normal School was closed in April 1922 by orders of the Kentucky General Assembly, who ordered the school to be made public and reopened the institution as the Morehead State Normal School which opened in the fall of 1923. The institution underwent several more changes, becoming The Morehead State Normal School and Teachers College in 1926, The Morehead State Teachers College in 1930, and, finally, Morehead State College in 1966 after achieving university status. During each of these transitions, the institution underwent a period of steady growth, accumulating new classroom buildings and dorm facilities. Shortly before the school's rebranding as The Morehead State Normal School and Teachers College, Hargis Hall was demolished after thirty-six years in service and instead replaced with a larger building named Allie Young Hall, which is still located on Morehead State's campus today. Due to its connection to the Morehead Normal School, Allie Young Hall has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.