The Hosford History Center & Lawrence Archives is the central site of Olivet College history and a vibrant learning environment of interaction and collaboration. The space stores the College’s archives in a secure, humidity-controlled and fireproof environment. The Hosford also offers a chronological walk-through-time museum and archives with offices, meeting rooms, student workspaces, and a café.
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 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.