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  • Welcome to Blackburn College

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    There is no other college or university in the United States quite like Blackburn College. Our unique campus culture is the byproduct of the purposeful melding of our nationally acclaimed student-managed Work Program and rigorous liberal arts academic curriculum. The result is a unique living laboratory for learning where the boundaries between job and classroom are blurred, and mentoring from faculty and staff knows no clock.

    Since 1913, Blackburn’s student managed Work Program has made the dream of a college education affordable for thousands of first generation students by keeping the cost of our private liberal arts education within their reach. Over the years, our students have built Blackburn – literally brick by brick. In fact, Blackburn enjoys the distinction of being the only college campus in the United States to have been largely built by its students. Today our students carry on this tradition by staffing mission critical jobs as plumbers, carpenters, painters, landscapers, cooks, servers, administrators, computer technicians, janitors, graphic artists, security officers, assistant coaches, tutors and teaching assistants.

    At Blackburn, students are fully vested in every aspect of their college experience, whether it’s success in the classroom, managing or staffing their campus job or in governing the life of the institution.

    1835: Government land for the college obtained by Gideon Blackburn. Site for the campus purchased by citizens.

    1837: Land deeded to trustees by Gideon Blackburn. Blackburn College founded by Dr. Gideon Blackburn.

    1855: Instruction began.

    1857: Blackburn Theological Seminary chartered. First unit of University Hall (“Old Main”) erected.

    1858: “Old Main” constructed (located near today’s Jones Hall)

    1862: Blackburn Academy organized (on campus grade school and high school)

    1864: Four year college established. Women admitted to all classes.

    1867: Theological department organized. Second unit of “Old Main” erected.

    1869: Charter name changed to Blackburn University.

    1870: First college commencement held in Macoupin County Courthouse.

    1871: First edition of the Blackburn Gazette published (later known as The Blackburn Courier, The Blackburnian, and finally The ‘Burnian) which is today the oldest college newspaper still published in Illinois.

    1880: Robertson Hall constructed (located where today’s Ludlum Hall stands).

    1883: The graduating class donates the “Virgin Rock”, which sits in front of Butler Hall.

    1885: Minton Observatory constructed (near the site of today’s C.H.C. Anderson building).

    1913: Student “Self Help Plan” initiated (participating students paid $100 tuition and contributed 3 hrs.day of manual labor). College barns built.

    1915: Pullman cars donated and installed to be used as dormitories.

    1916: Certificate of Associate of Arts granted to graduates.

    1917: Last four-year class graduated (4 members) until the 1949 class.

    1918: Bachelor of Arts four year program discontinued. Junior College established. First junior college class (9 members) graduated.

    1922: Central heating plant completed.

    1924: Stoddard Hall constructed.

    1926: McKinley House constructed. Given to Blackburn University by Senator McKinley.

    1927: Old Main (University Hall) destroyed by fire.

    1928: Burridge D. Butler Hall constructed. Ground broken for what would become Hudson Hall.

    1930: The original Blackburn Academy discontinued. Hudson Hall constructed. Pullman cars discarded (burned).

    1931: Blackburn accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as a Junior College.

    1932: Temporary gymnasium erected.

    1934: Wilson House opened.

    1936: Modern dairy barn erected.

    1937: Dairy house erected.

    1938: Dawes Gymnasium constructed.

    1940: New boiler and stokers installed. Senate purchased and remodeled.

    1941: Ground broken for Jones Hall.

    1942: Minton Observatory razed.

    1943: North wing of the College Barn destroyed by fire; agriculture program effectively discontinued Brick tool house and garage constructed.

    1947: Bachelor of Arts degree program re-established. Library Annex obtained.

    1949: Jones-Allison Hall constructed.

    1950: Blackburn received accreditation as a four year Bachelor’s degree granting institution.

    1951: Music building acquired.

    1954: C.H.C. Anderson Student Center (“Den”) constructed.

    1957: F.W. Olin Science Building constructed.

    1959: Graham Hall constructed. Robertson Hall destroyed by fire. Renner Art building acquired.

    1960: Associate of Arts degree discontinued.

    1961: Construction of Ludlum Hall begun.

    1962: Alumni hall of Biology added to F.W. Olin Science Building.

    1964: Construction of Lumpkin Library begun.

    1965: Challacombe Hall (“North”) constructed. Ludlum Hall construction completed.

    1967: Theresa M. Renner Art Center opened. Separate gas-heating units replace central coal-fired heating.

    1968: C.H.C. Anderson Student Center expanded. Fred M. Jewell residence Hall and James R. Fuller Infirmary constructed.

    1969: Clegg Chapel renovated. Clement J. and Elizabeth P. Lumpkin Library opened. North wind still under construction. Allison Dining Hall expanded.

    1970: Isabel Bothwell Conservatory of Music with facilities for theater construction completed.

    1971: Language Laboratory newly equipped.

    1972: Former library space in Hudson Hall lower level converted into classrooms and offices.

    1974: Remodeling of Dawes Gymnasium begun. Playing floor enlarged to regulation size.

    1975: Construction begun on Woodward (addition to Dawes Gymnasium) to include swimming pool, locker rooms, exercise areas, and handball courts.

    1983: Computer Center established.

    1984: Herbert N. Woodward Physical Education Center dedicated.

    1991: Mary H. Rahme Learning Resource Center dedicated.

    1999: Physical Plant Building completed (located behind Lumpkin)

    2000: Hudson Hall completely renovated.

    2002: Demuzio Campus Center opened. Includes kitchen and dining hall, snack bar, student life offices, Work Program officies, mail room, and bookstore.

    2003: Visual Arts Center constructed (attached to north side of Bothwell conservatory).

    2005: David M. Woodson Center for Business and Economics opened (housed inside Jones-Allison where the kitchen and dining hall were previously located).

    2008: The Marvin and Ingrid Mahan Science Laboratory constructed (located adjacent to Olin, one of the first LEED rated buildings in central Illinois, houses state of the art laboratories for biology, chemistry, biochemistry, faculty offices, and a large enclosed atrium).

    2009: Swimming pool in Woodward Center closed.

    2014: Phase 1 of the Lumpkin Learning Commons renovation completed (Lobby and offices).

    2016: Phase 2 of the Lumbkin Learning Commons renovation completed (north wing).

    2016: C.H.C. Anderson (the “Den”) remodeled/refurbished and named the Claire Jaenke Alumni Welcome Center in C.H.C. Anderson. Alumni and Development staff moves from Ludlum Hall to the Welcome Center.

    2017: Woodward Center renovated and re-purposed for a wellness center. Old pool area filled in and covered with new floor for placement of exercise equipment. Lobby, offices, and hall redone.

    Buildings constructed by students on the Work Program:

    • Stoddard Hall
    • Butler Hall
    • Hudson Hall
    • Dawes Gymnasium
    • Olin Science Hall
    • Graham Hall
    • Alumni Hall of Biology
    • Ludlum Hall
    • Lumpkin Library
    • Woodward Center (Dawes addition)
    • Rahme Learning Resource Center addition to Lumpkin Learning Commons