Union University traces its Jackson, TN roots to the founding of Jackson Male Academy in 1823. The campus, located between College Street and Lexington Avenue in East Jackson would house higher education for a century and a half. Jackson Male Academy would eventually become West Tennessee College, before being purchased by Tennessee Baptists to establish Southwestern Baptist University. Renamed Union University in 1907, the school remained on the East Jackson campus until 1976 when it moved to its current location in North Jackson.
College Hall was the original building of West Tennessee College. Built in 1847, it was occupied by Federal troops during the Civil War. It housed faculty offices, classrooms, science labs, the library and reading room.
Powell Chapel was completed in 1899. The second floor housed meeting rooms for the literary societies and fraternities. The first floor consisted of the President's office and the auditorium.
College Hall and Powell Chapel were completely destroyed by fire on January 20, 1912. Quick thinking on the part of faculty and students saved most of the library collection and some of the laboratory equipment.
Barton Hall, completed in 1913, replaced College Hall as the main administration and classroom building, In addition, a wing to the rear housed the new chapel. College catalogs from the era are intentional to note "These buildings are amply protected from fire by a six-inch fire line connection to the city mains, supplying four fire hose inside the buildings and our own private hydrant in the center of the campus."
As the university grew and needed more classroom space, some departments found new homes following World War II.
After Union left the East Jackson campus, Barton was also destroyed by fire in the late 1970s.
When Barton was torn down after the fire, the time capsule, placed in the cornerstone in 1912, was recovered. The contents, in addition to newspapers and official items, included hastily scrawled names of construction workers and others present.
The First Dormitory
Adams Hall was the first dorm built by Southwestern Baptist University. Until then, students boarded in local homes. Adams opened in 1895 to house men. Dorm life was perhaps not too different then from what it is now. The following statement appeared in the 1898-99 catalog, just three years after the dorm first opened. "Experience further convinces us that young men who wish the advantages of W. T. Adams Hall should sign a pledge to conform with the regulations of the house, looking to quietness and good order. No young man of immoral conduct or rude and boisterous behavior will be allowed to remain in the Hall."
The wing to the rear of Adams Hall became known as jackleg alley for all the jackleg (e.g. lacking training) preachers who lived there.
Be sure to save your note edits before changing slides