A Rich History
The oldest building still standing on campus, the Hosford was built by and named for the Hosford family, who came to Olivet when the college’s existence seemed doomed after the death of its founder, Rev. John J. Shipherd, in 1844. The 23-year-old Oramel Hosford, who had recently graduated from Oberlin College, came to Olivet with his new wife, Abigail, who would become the principal of the Ladies’ Department. In 1849, five years after their arrival, the couple built a large house on campus where they could live and raise their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. This home came to be known as the Hosford House.
In addition to being a family home, the Hosford has served many purposes throughout its over 170-year existence, from being a home for the president, to housing international students, the alumni association, various guests on campus, and even the town post office. Given the house’s rich history, it only seemed right that it would become the home of the campus’s history center. Thanks to the continued generosity of the Lawrence family and together with other donors, the house was renovated and expanded in honor of the college’s 175th anniversary in 2019. Since the Hosford family continued their involvement with Olivet College for many generations, those of us here today want to preserve and honor their legacy through Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives.
1844 Letter by “Father” John J. Shipherd
A letter written in 1844 by the Rev. John J. Shipherd, discussing the founding of the college.
1890s Study Group Photo
Carrie Belle Archer (back row, far right), sister of Hiram Archer, is believed to be the first African-American female to attend Olivet College circa 1893.
Circular Newspaper, 1859
Written in August of 1859, the Circular is our best source for the announcement of Olivet College’s long awaited charter, 15 years after our founding. This delay was largely due to our college’s abolitionist stance.
Laying of Pavement in Olivet, 1924
Photo of Main Street in Olivet, Michigan, documents the laying of the first section of pavement in 1924.
C.S. Mott Academic Center
The College’s C.S. Mott Academic Center is named for Charles Stewart Mott who was not only an engineer and entrepreneur, but also a philanthropist and public servant. The building was constructed in 1967 to replace Mather Hall, which had stood from the 1800s. Today, the Mott Academic Center serves as a space for classrooms and offices and is the primary academic building on campus.