THE "OLD" HASTINGS
[That is, the College Property As It Stood in 1925]
P. L. Johnson
Hastings College is not an old institution as compared to eastern colleges. The West is new. When we speak of "old Hastings," we mean to describe the College property as it now stands, before the "new college" was begun.
McCormick Hall is the oldest building. One-half the fund for it was provided by Cyrus H. McCormick [Sr.] and his son. It was built in 1883.
Ringland Hall, the second building, constructed in 1884-5, was named in honor of the first president of the College, the Reverend W. F. Ringland, D.D.
Alexander Hall, a ladies’ dormitory erected in 1895, was named in honor of the veteran Secretary of the Board of Trustees and pioneer merchant of Hastings. A marble tablet in the building is inscribed: "To the memory of Samuel Alexander and the pioneers of Nebraska who built this College."
Carnegie Library and Science Hall, built in 1907-8, was made possible by a gift of $20,000 from Mr. Andrew Carnegie.
The Student Gymnasium was built in 1910, largely by volunteer student labor. The Gymnasium was totally destroyed by fire on January 19, 1925.
The central heating plant and temporary tunnels were constructed in 1911-12 at a cost of $5,275.
The Domestic Science Cottage provided in 1916, is a neat stucco building, made possible by the reconstruction of an old building given to the College by the President of its Board, Mr. A. L. Clarke.
The Williams Bible House was erected in 1920 to be used as a residence for the teacher of Bible. This building was largely the gift of Mr. L. O. Williams of University Place, Nebraska, in memory of his son, Robert L. Williams, who gave his life in France in the 1914 – 1918 War.
Lake View Dormitory and the President’s House, both located near the College on 9th Street, were purchased for the uses indicated by their names.
The new tunnels for steam heat and the water mains under the campus walks were constructed in 1920-21. The central heating plant was at the same time more fully equipped.
The history of Hastings College falls naturally into four parts:
1. The period of the seventies – Organization.
2. The period of the eighties – Foundation.
3. The period of the nineties – Consolidation.
4. First quarter of the twentieth century – Growth.
Nebraska became a state in 1867, and the county of Adams was organized early in 1872. Twenty-nine votes were cast at the election in December, 1871. The town of Hastings was incorporated early in 1874, although it had already become a frontier trading post in 1872. Its first settlement was by an English colony direct from Liverpool, in 1871, but for the most part, the settlers were from the states directly east of it.
The first tidal wave of immigration came out into the plains as far as Central Nebraska. Many persons were attracted to the Hastings location because of the crossing here of two pioneer railroads from the east and south-east, now transcontinental lines of the Burlington and the Union Pacific systems.
Coming from Iowa and New England and the states that lie between them, these early settlers were prepared and eager to establish American institutions – among them, "the American college." Even before Hastings was incorporated, the proposal of a college was discussed. Methodist churchmen first considered Hastings, but then decided upon a location farther east in the more fully settled part of the state. This change of location is the first appearance of that powerful, constantly recurring, and almost fatal argument against building a college at Hastings: "Too far out in the semi-arid plains." Agricultural disaster and resultant poverty would overcome these efforts, however well intended. This argument, even now, is sound from a strictly business view. It does not, however, compass the power of spiritual forces.