Fort Wayne Methodist College 2017-05-31T16:06:45+00:00

Fort Wayne Methodist College

Old Historical Marker Text:

SITE OF THE FORT WAYNE COLLEGE, BETTER KNOWN AS THE M.E. COLLEGE

Esatblished in 1846 as the Fort Wayne Female College on ground donated by William Rockhill. In 1855 the College consolidated with the Fort Wayne Collegiate Institute for Young Men, and it was then called the M.E. College. In 1890 the College grounds were deeded to Taylor University.

Erected by the M.E. College Association, 1936.

After several citizens of Fort Wayne raised thirteen thousand dollars and William Rockhill donated three acres of land for the college, a board of fifteen trustees was appointed in 1847, advertisements for students were printed, and one of the largest buildings then in Fort Wayne was erected. This four-story building in the center of a campus at the end of Wayne Street held as many as one hundred students.

The curriculum was traditional, with required studies in Latin, Greek, and mathematics, as well as moral philosophy, music and penmanship. In September 1850, the first male students were enrolled as a separate division, and the entire student body was united as the Fort Wayne Methodist College in 1853. College life was strictly regulated. Daily attendance was required at chapel, Sunday worship, and a weekly “Singspiration.” Smoking, chewing, drinking, dancing, car playing, visiting downtown Fort Wayne, and “roaming the fields” were all forbidden.

One of the most notable students in these early years was Henry Lawton, who became a career soldier and a model hero of the later nineteenth century. Another student, Samuel Morris, also gained considerable local notoriety. The product of Methodist missionary work, Morris had been known in his West African tribe of Kru as Prince Kaboo. He was converted and came to the United States and entered the Fort Wayne Methodist College in 1892. He had a charming personality and a zealous religious vocation, which quickly made him one of the best-liked students at the college. But, in 1893, he became ill and died. The funeral held in Lindenwood Cemetery “was one of the largest ever witnessed in Fort Wayne,” the touching story of Samuel Morris’s conversion, his zeal for education, and his untimely end was widely told and attracted numerous new students to the college.

Because the college had been in serious financial trouble throughout the late 1880s, the legacy of Samuel Morris became crucial to the survival for the school. When Fort Wayne Methodist College closed in 1894 and moved to Upland, Indiana, to begin a new life as Taylor University, one of its first two buildings was named Samuel Morris Hall, in recognition of the spirit of Prince Kaboo. Nearly a century later, Taylor University returned to Fort Wayne in 1992 and opened a branch campus on the south side of the city.[1]

All that remains of the Fort Wayne Methodist College is a set of Row Houses that were built to as faculty housing. The Methodist College Rowhouses are Chateauesque houses with a mix of Gothic and Renaissance detailing, which are both elaborate and rare. The rowhouses have typical Chateauesque features such as towers, a through-the-cornice wall dormer, corbelled cornices in a variety of patterns, multiple dormers, and a parapeted gable.[2]

[1] The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Committee, On the Heritage Trail: A Walking Guidebook to the Fort Wayne Heritage Trail (Fort Wayne: ARCH, Inc., 1994), 127-129.

[2] Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission, “West Central Historic District,” Brochure published by the City of Fort Wayne.

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