By Lou Bernard
March 8, 2013
It was incorporated in 1870; I came along over a century later. A couple of years ago, a college official contacted the newspapers to state that LHU had been providing a continuous education to the students for 140 years straight.This was somewhat inaccurate, and a good reason to listen to the historians instead of the college officials.The college was incorporated as Central State Normal School in 1870, but it’s not as if there were any students. In fact, there wasn’t even a college yet—Just the paperwork. Due to funding and labor issues, the cornerstone wasn’t even placed until 1873, on top of the hill where Gross Hall now stands. Construction wasn’t completed until 1877, which was when it first truly opened for business.
And then it closed again in 1888, when the building burned to the ground. Nobody died in the fire, though a few students received minor injuries. The firemen had discovered that they didn’t have enough water pressure to reach the top of the hill, a problem that was remedied by rebuilding down below, about where Stevenson Library now stands. The flood of 1889 interrupted the rebuilding process, but the school reopened by the end of the year in a huge, V-shaped building with beautiful arches and towers.
The oldest structure on campus is the Rogers Gymnasium, which was built in 1896 at a cost of fourteen thousand dollars.
I mean, these days you can’t buy textbooks for fourteen thousand dollars, but times were simpler then. The building has been used as a gym for the entire time it’s been standing. Price Auditorium came along considerably later, in 1938. So did Sullivan Hall, which originally began life as a library.
In 1959, the school became Lock Haven State Teachers’ College, and finally Lock Haven University. This was the name when I attended, briefly, as a student in 1990. I returned twenty years later to write for the Eagle Eye when editor Lyndsey Hewitt invited me to submit historic columns.
Which was three years ago, this month. Thanks, everyone, for reading.