Hamline’s Old Main Then and Now
Hamline University was founded in Red Wing, Minnesota 158 years ago. Named after Methodist Bishop Leonidas Lent, this private liberal arts college is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. One of the five Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, Hamline has a total enrollment of 4,900 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The construction of Hamline’s St. Paul Campus began in 1873, but economic depression caused repeated postponements and delays. The University didn’t formally open up it’s 77-acre campus until 1880. The catalog for that year lists 113 students. Tuition in the collegiate division was $30 per year.
Old Main was built and dedicated debt-free after Hamline’s original University Hall was destroyed by fire in1884. The building was used for classrooms, offices, and a dining hall. Today Old Main is primarily an administrative building. It houses the offices for the President’s, Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs , Human Resources, Marketing Communications, Development, Finance. Old Main’s bell tower still chimes every hour. The building’s original bell is stored carefully and brought out each spring at Commencement, where it is rung in celebration of the graduates. Old Main’s 45 foot tower is the oldest and tallest structure on the Hamline University campus. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.