January 17, 2019 | By Jackie Luskey | No Comments

Oregon History Lesson: Old College Hall

Oregon History Lesson: Old College HallOld College Hall

Forest Grove is known as a cute-as-can-be small college town. On the West Coast, it’s rare to find a small college with as much history as Pacific University. The school, after all, is home to one of the oldest continuously used educational buildings west of the Mississippi River. That building is Old College Hall. Of course, the building has earned its name.

In 1850, Old College Hall simply was Pacific University, serving as the school’s first official building. It’s first name? The Academy Building. Some of Oregon’s pioneers, such as Alvin T. Smith, helped construct the building with their own hands. With classic Victorian architecture that served as both educational and living quarters, The Academy Building was a prized edifice for one of Oregon’s first established cities. By 1852, a bell was hung for signaling school and community events. All of these special touches have truly earned the now Old College Hall its place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Indubitably, Old College Hall has endured many changes since its initial build. The hall has even been moved—yes moved!—three times. Amidst the bustle of the brick-paved grounds, students and visitors alike can still visit Old College Hall at the southwest corner of the main campus.

Monthly Tours of Old College Hall

The second floor of Old College Hall is now converted into a museum. Open for tours the first Wednesday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the museum features a collection of artifacts that help tell the history of the school, the city of Forest Grove, and Oregon as a state. For a sneak peek, you can take a virtual tour of some of the artifacts that live inside this storied hall.

The Old College Hall Open Houses occur the first Wednesday of every month:

February 6
March 6
April 3
May 1
June 5
July 3
August 7
September 4
November 6
December 4

Forest Grove’s Old Train Station Museum

For even more history, Forest Grove’s Old Train Station Museum is also open on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon. While the train is long out-of-service, its station is fully stocked with remnants of the past. Over 150 years of local history is told through antique maps, photographs, clothing and handmade furniture. It’s a history buff’s dream.

A historically good stay 

After your day of learning, check into your room at a historical hotel down the road. The McMenamins Grand Lodge is a fantastically renovated Masonic Lodge. Today, the property’s rooms, bars, restaurants and hallways are adorned with an interesting mix of murals, portraits and quotes inspired by yesteryear pop culture and Oregon history.

Historical information via Pacific University and Friends of Historic Forest Grove.

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