: Caption reads: "Greene County - Wilberforce University, Oct. 20, 1936. Old power house to be demolished. Project not yet approved. Near Xenia, Ohio."
Wilberforce University is located on US 42, three miles from Xenia, Ohio on land that at one time occupied the Tawawa Springs summer resort. In 1856, the Methodist Episcopal Church established Wilberforce University near Xenia, Ohio, to provide African American access to a college education. The university was the first private black college in the United States. Its founders named the institution after William Wilberforce, a prominent eighteenth-century abolitionist. A number of African-American Ohioans attended the school during its early years. During the American Civil War, attendance declined as many students enlisted in the Union army. Wilberforce University closed in 1862.
In 1863, the African Methodist Episcopal Church acquired ownership of the university. Under the direction of Daniel Payne, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, John Mitchell, the principal of a school in Cincinnati, and James Shorter, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor from Zanesville, Ohio, Wilberforce reopened its doors. The institution operated as a private university serving the African-American community for the next twenty-four years. In 1887, the State of Ohio began to provide Wilberforce with funds to help finance the institution, brought to an end the university's exclusively private status. The state also helped the university create a Normal and Industrial Department that eventually evolved into Central State University.
Wilberforce University has experienced steady growth throughout the twentieth century. During the last decades of the twentieth century, the institution built a new residence hall, a student health center, a recreation and sports facility, and an administrative center. The university offers more than twenty degree programs and has exchange programs with universities around the world. In 2003, enrollment was more than 1,200 students.
Arson fire damaged some of the buildings in 1865 and tornado in destroyed much of the campus 1974. Below is a partial list of buildings that have been or are on campus:
Galloway Hall - Built in 1905, as an impressive administration building and auditorium. It was destroyed by a tornado in 1974 and was rebuilt as part of the Central State University campus. The new building name is Galloway Alumni Tower.
Bundy Hall (recitation building) – built 1917
Arnett Hall (girls dormitory and classrooms) - built 1901
Kenzia Emery Hall (girls dormitory) - built 1913
Shorter Hall (boys dormitory, classrooms and administration) – built 1867 (fire caused remodeling 1922) – survived 1974 tornado - demolished 1999
Carnegie Library - built 1907 (1909?) – survived 1974 tornado - National Register of Historic Places 2004
J.G. Mitchell Hall (boys dormitory and classrooms) - built 1891
S.T. Mitchell Hall (girls dormitory – Model home for senior girls) - built 1912 - Samuel T. Mitchell, President 1884-1900. Mitchell Hall, which once stood where Central State University's Hallie Q. Brown Library and Education Building stands today, was named for President Mitchell.
O’Neill Hall (boys dormitory and classrooms – first of the state funded buildings) - built 1890
Model School - built 1889
Howell’s Hall - built 1900
Light, Heat and Power Plant – built 1904
Poindexter Hall (built for the printing and drawing departments) - built 1904
Mechanic Arts (built to house carpentry, blacksmithing and machine shops) – built 1914
Tawawa Hospital – built 1916
Beacom Gymnasium – built 1918
Charles Leander Hill Gymnasium – built 1958 - survived 1974 tornado
Margaret Ireland Hall (girls dormitory) – built 1963 – destroyed 1974
Central State University
In 1887, the Ohio General Assembly established a separate institution to be housed on the Wilberforce campus known as the Combined Normal and Industrial Department. The state-supported school was to focus on training blacks for work in industrial trades and as school teachers. Although the Combined Normal and Industrial Department imposed no restrictions on the race or sex of its students, it was understood that the Department was intended primarily to serve Ohio's African American community.
For six decades the Department was administered as part of Wilberforce University. It was set apart, however, by having its own board of trustees which was responsible for administering the state funding of its activities. In 1941, the Department became the College of Education and established a four year program. In 1947 it was declared legally separate from Wilberforce. Although still sharing its campus with Wilberforce, the institution was now the College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce. In 1951 the Ohio State Legislature added a liberal arts program and renamed the institution Central State College. Former Wilberforce president Charles H. Wesley served as the first president of Central State from 1947 until 1965. Central State became a university in 1965.
View on Ohio Memory.
: SA1039AV_B05F02_021 Subjects
: Architecture--Ohio--Pictorial works.; Education; Universities and colleges; Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio; Central State University (Wilberforce, Ohio); Power-plants United States Places
: Wilberforce (Ohio); Greene County (Ohio)