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Digital History at Ursinus

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. 

Myrin Library:

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 As Freeland Hall was coming close to its 100 year anniversary at Ursinus, it had become outdated, had too many purposes, and was an actual fire hazard.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.   

Freeland Hall and Myrin Library