The Hosford House has been part of Olivet College for almost as long as the college has been in existence. Built by Oramel Hosford, one of institution’s founders, the house is believed to be the oldest residence in the city of Olivet and one of the college’s most historic structures. Come Founders’ Day 2019, it will become the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive.
Funded by the Responsible Learners – Responsible Leaders: Olivet College 2020 and Beyond comprehensive campaign, the building’s classic structure, including original wooden beams, will blend with modern features to create a welcoming space for students, faculty, alumni and community members. In addition, a new climate-controlled, fireproof and elevator-accessible addition will be the new home of the Olivet College Archives, with documents and items safely catalogued and stored within.
“The house is designed to dually serve as a museum and gathering space. Its geographic location positions the house on a pathway between several student apartments and the Cutler Athletic Complex, and main campus, naturally creating a middle ground that appeals to all,” said Nikki Magie, Ph.D., Olivet College archivist and assistant professor of social science. “This is all in addition to a place that houses and displays the college’s history, making it impossible to enjoy this space without bumping into history and ensuring students will learn something simply from being immersed in it.”
Students have been involved in the process of transforming the Hosford House into a space that will function as both a museum and a place to gather.
Senior Hannah Mellino has put the knowledge she’s learned in the classroom as a graphic design and biological illustration major into practice as a student assistant in the OC Archives. She’s played a major role in researching design elements that flow appropriately with the historical elements of the home and displays, including furniture, flooring, color schemes and décor. The college’s historical collection gives testimony to its contributions to women’s rights, racial equality, economic progression and the nobility of the human spirit.
“It’s important to preserve our history, especially because of its uniqueness. The way we are displaying it pays homage to that,” Mellino said. “It makes me proud to be a part of an institution that fights for what is right and doesn’t wait until it’s convenient for them. It’s very unique and special, and the Hosford History Center is the perfect way to display this and connect it to all ages.”
Senior Emily Dorn made her first trip to the archives as a first year student on Service Day. Her passion for history has continued to grow, even leading her to declare a double major in history and mathematics.
“The college has such a strong history, and I’m proud to be building on that,” Dorn said.” Community has always been an important element of Olivet College, and I know that the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive will honor our founders and others who came before, and it will help continuously create that sense of community by being a place where we can come together.”
Junior Hezekiah Turner, a business management major, said the renovated home will provide a new learning outlet for students unlike anything else on campus.
“The Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive will allow students to research material as if they were at a museum,” Turner said. “I also hope archival documents and artifacts will inspire today’s students and future generations to create new memories that can also be passed down and put on display at the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive.”
The grand opening of the Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive is set for Founders’ Day, Feb. 20, 2019. Plans for other events to view the home are also underway. The Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archive is the result of a lead gift from Robert ’57 and Sarah (Engle) ’56 Lawrence. Learn more about this project and others.