North Hall: Three Centuries of Education
By Jamie Curtis, class of 2010
The majestic Victorian-era North Hall has symbolized the spirit of Mansfield University for more than a century. Located in the heart of the campus, it originally housed the women’s dormitory and today serves as one of the most elegant libraries in the United States.
The original North Hall, known as the “Ladies Building” was built in 1874. The four-story wooden and brick structure was 150 feet long with a covered walkway that connected it to South Hall and Alumni Hall. The kitchen and dining hall were moved from the seminary building to the new ladies dormitory. Building materials for North Hall totaled about $15,000.
During the dedication ceremony for the new structure, Dr. Simon B Elliott, state trustee and one of the most important figures in Mansfield history, unveiled his vision of higher education that was far-reaching and decades ahead of its time: 1
“To the end that intelligence and education shall be universal; that the rich and the poor; the child of him who has power and place, and of him who treads the lowly paths of life shall receive alike the blessings of Education-the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the people of this community built and now dedicate this building to the uses of education and to the moral and religious instruction and in rite equally and alike without distinction of sex, or race, or creed, or party, the children of all who may desire to participate of the opportunities which shall be here offered.” 2 Dr. Simon B Elliott, State trustee. –
As student enrollment grew, Mansfield needed to expand. In 1891 construction plans were drawn up by Elmira, NY architects, Pierce and Bickford. The original plans called for a steeple. While very imposing and fanciful on the drawing board, it was scaled back by the board of trustees due to financial constraints.