Freeland Hall and Myrin Library
Freeland Hall 1848-1969
Freeland Hall was originally known as Freeland Seminary. 10 acres of land was purchased, and Freeland Seminary was built, by Abraham Hunsicker in 1848. The school was a Mennonite preparatory school for boys, but in 1851 the Hunsicker family was expelled from the Eastern Conference of Mennonites. They formed the Trinity Christian Society, but the group disintegrated because of the civil war. In 1865 A. H. Fetterolf began leasing, and in 1869 the building was purchased to form Ursinus College.
Ursinus College used the building to its fullest. The building was once a dining hall, common area and ball room, class room, housed the football team, students, and contained apartments for some faculty and staff. In 1897 the basement was renovated to become kitchen space, dining room, servant’s quarters and closets. In 1913 renovations were made to house more students and meet the present needs of the college. A portico was added along with a newer kitchen, but not much could be done for the building around 1968. It was left far too long with no cosmetic touches or updates, and therefore was a sitting fire hazard. Though many students felt connected to the oldest building on campus, one that housed the school for many years, the wrecking ball hit. On its 100th birthday year Freeland hall was destroyed. Many students watched, and felt the emptiness of campus as the hole in the ground created a whole in their hearts.
100 Years in Review
Students, alumni, faculty and staff all placed Freeland Hall as the center of campus. Not only physically was it the center of campus, but the building being the oldest was the closest thing to a Main that Ursinus has even known. Still to this day we do not have a building quite like Freeland Hall, because the new construction displaced the spirit of the building. With a growing campus and higher competition Ursinus had to move on from its traditions in Freeland Hall. These articles describe the overwhelming love for the building and capture the heart of Ursinus as a school of tradition and change.
Freeland Hall: Destruction
It began in 1968 when the bulldozers and wrecking ball tore down the building. It continued until there was nothing but a hole left in the ground.
Myrin Library: Construction
After the destruction of Freeland Hall, Dr. William S. Pettit, President of Ursinus College, had planned to build a new centrally located library. This project was in part one of his Centennial Building Program. The library would replace the then, Alumni Memorial Library, and be able to house up to 300,000 volumes while also having room for 500 students at any given time. Construction began in 1969 and was completed the next year in 1970. The library would be dedicated in 1971 and be opened that year.
Myrin Library was created due to the need of a big, better, and a more centrally located library. As Freeland Hall was coming close to its 100 year anniversary at Ursinus, it had become outdated, had too many purposes, and was an actual fire hazard. The Alumni Memorial Library was also outliving its purpose destined to become the College Union. With a building too small to house everything and one that was divided with males on one side and female on the other, there needed to be change. To break from tradition, a line seen very prominently with the destruction of Freeland Hall, Myrin was a culmination of everything that was needed. A three-story building capable of holding more than the Alumni Memorial Library ever dreamed of and breaking the divide between genders. Not only that but, it was able to have room to constantly change to whatever was required of it. With a need for Ursinus to find its place among other colleges, Myrin was the first step. It was state of the art and could compete with other academic libraries in the area. Along with this, Dr. William S. Pettit’s 10-year plan was paramount into turning Ursinus into the best and most achieving college it could be.
After the library was constructed in 1970, the school needed a way to get all of the books from the Alumni Memorial Library to the new one. In order to bring students, faculty, and staff together, a Book Walk was declared. On October 6, 1970, the Ursinus Community came together and carried stack after stack of books from one building to the next. The undertaking has gone down as a very memorable moment in Ursinus History with tons of photographs to prove it.
Myrin Library Dedication:
The library was dedicated to the late Mr. H. Alarik W. Myrin on May 2, 1971, at 3:00 p.m. in Bomberger Auditorium. The speakers included: Dr. William S. Pettit, President of Ursinus College, Dr. Donald L. Helfferich, Chancellor of Ursinus College, Mrs. H. Alarik W. Myrin, Wife of Mr. H. Alarik W. Myrin, and Miss Karin Myrin, Grandaughter to Mr. H. Alarik W. Myrin. The speeches had topics that varied from the importance of a central library, the role the library can play in the many fields and studies around campus, and time. After the dedication, there was a reception in Myrin and the cutting of the ribbon by Mrs. H. Alarik W. Myrin.
Founders' Day December 5, 1991 was a special occasion because it celebrated Myrin’s 20th anniversary. The building had undergone years of renovations, changes, and updates which reflected the changing needs of the students, faculty, and staff. The updates included re-carpeting, painting, and the moving of whole sections of books. The library also updated to meet the technological needs of students. The late 80’s was a period of big technological change and in order to keep up, Myrin put in new computer labs with microcomputers, a huge new collection of audiovisual materials, and catalogued on the computer. This rededication gave Myrin’s faculty and staff the credit they deserved for constantly trying to meet the needs of the Ursinus Community.