Mount Morris College (1879 - 1932) Mount Morris, IL.
Mount Morris College (1879 - 1932) Mount Morris, IL.
























Mount Morris College was a religious college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren in Mount Morris, Illinois. The original institution at this location was Rock River Seminary, which was founded by the Methodist Church in 1839. The Methodists closed Rock River Seminary in 1878 and subsequently sold the seminary grounds and buildings to the Church of the Brethren. The Brethren reorganized the school and reopened it in 1879 as Mount Morris Seminary and Collegiate Institute.


The institution officially became Mount Morris College in 1884.


Although the college initially attracted enough students to be successful, luck was never with it. Fire hit the campus in January 1912 and burned one of the college's main buildings to the ground. Diligent fundraising allowed the campus to continue, and a new building was constructed to replace what was lost. However, by the end of World War I enrollments began to decline, and financial problems continued to plague the college.


Enrollments began to rise again in 1929-1930, but then disaster struck one more time. Another fire hit the campus in April 1932 and destroyed a dormitory and heavily damaged some classroom and administrative buildings. The financial strain of this second fire, coming during the worst years of the Great Depression was just too much. At the end of the school year in May 1932, Mount Morris College closed its doors forever and merged with Manchester College (IN).


The campus is intact and the buildings are corporate offices for Watt Publishing and Kable Print Services.


From 'Mount Morris: Past and Present' (1900):


One of the first attractions to engage the attention of the visitor to our village is Mount Morris College, with its three substantial buildings and park-like campus, situated on the crest of elevation upon which the village is built.  The ideal situation of the institution - just opposite the two principal business blocks - makes a very favorable impression upon the stranger, and expressions of admiration are frequently heard.  The college of today is the monument which has been reared upon the ruins of the old and time-honored Rock River Seminary.


Plans were set on foot for the building of a new temple of instruction, the present College Hall.  About $20,000 were necessary for the erection of the desired building, and President Royer started to solicit the amount by subscription throughout the Brotherhood.  The canvass proved successful.  Ground was broken for the building in March 1890, and the edifice was completed and ready for occupancy at the beginning of the fall term of 1891.  The building is the most massive structure in Mount Morris.  It is a plain, substanial, brick-veneered building with 72 feet front and, including a spacious chapel, 122 feet long.  The main part is three stories above the basement, and contains 15 well arranged rooms, most of which are of ample size.  On the first floor are two large reciation rooms, separated from the commodious chapel by folding doors, which when opened permit the rooms to be used as annexes to the chapel, thereby greatly increasing its seating capacity.  There are also two smaller recitation rooms and a Bible Library and reading room on this floor.  The library contains 600 good text books and Bibles and Bible subjects.  The second floor contains the president's office, the bookstore and business manager's office, three recitations rooms, two of them the Mathematics room and the Studio, being quite roomy; and the general library, containing in the neighborhood of 20,000 volumes.  These books are arranged on all four sides of the room, from floor to ceiling.  There is also a large rack filled with books.


The library room is also nicely fitted up for a reading room, and is supplied with the best periodicals of the day.  On the third floor are two recitation rooms, the bell ringers apartment, and the elegantly furnished halls of the Amphictyon and the Philorhetorian Literary Societies.  These halls were furnished by the societies at their own expense, and are the finest rooms in the building.


In the year 1893, fortune again smiled upon the college to the extent that a new dormitory for the ladies was found to be a necessity, and the historic 'Old Sandstone', which had been used for that purpose for so many years, was leveled to the ground and a larger, more modern structure erected.  The new dormitory cost in the neighborhood of $10,000.  The building is a fine three story brick-veneered structure, with a basement; its dimensions are 30x80 feet.  It is situated several rods to the west of the old seminary building.  The greater part of the basement is taken up for the college dining hall.  With the exception of several parlors, the upper three stories are divided into rooms for the accommodation of about seventy of the fair sex. The cozy character of the rooms makes Ladies' Hall a very desirable home for the lady students. 


A year or so after the erection of the two new buildings, a number of changes in "Old
Sandstone " No. 2 became necessary, there being a demand for more rooms for young men.  Consequently, the building was given a thorough overhauling. Every floor and partition was torn out: in fact, everything was changed except the walls. This building is a massive stone structure, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide.  At the east end of the first floor is a chapel in which the daily chapel exercises are held for the benefit of the students. The west end is business manager occupied by the scientifle department of the college, under the management of Prof. W. L. Eikenberry. In this department there are four rooms; a chemical laboratory, a museum and library room, and two recitation rooms. The library contains about 300 volumes, treating on scientific subjects. The second floor is partly taken up by a spacious Commercial Hall, where Prof. Aaron L. Clair supervises the instruction of bookkeeping, commercial law, and the transaction of actual business. This department is always well filled. It also contains a technical library of 300 volumes.  The remainder of the second floor and all of the third and fourth floors are arranged into about sixty rooms for the accommodation of the gentlemen students. This building, as well as College Hall and Ladies' Hall, is heated throughout by steam. During the sessions of school, in the evening when the studious inmates of "Old Sandstone" are busily engaged in preparing their lessons for the morrow, the scores of windows seuding rays of glim jierina: light across the campus impress the observer very strongly of a bee-hive of industry. Surmounting College Hall and "Old Sandstone" are observatories, which, being a considerable height from the ground, furnish fine bird's-eye views of the surrounding country.

Thus, improvement has followed improvement, until now the college possesses three buildings of which they may well be proud.


Athletics have never occupied the exalted position in Mount Morris College that they do in a great number of the institutions of learning.  However, all clean sports that help the student to keep a sound mind in a sound body are not objected to by the management. Tennis courts are laid out on the campus, and, when the weather permits, numerous devotees of the game may be seen dexterously passing the lively balls back and forth over the net. In baseball and football the college has never attained to much reputation, — no doubt because the majority of the students are young people who must make every moment of their time tell, and consequently they cannot afford to spend much of their time in the required practice. Since the school draws most of its students from the farm, an abundance of brawn is always at hand, and, if turned in the right direction, would result in skilled playing, second to none in the county. On this page is shown a view of the football team of 1899. Although organized rather late in the season, the eleven made a very creditable showing.


school information


Mount Morris archives

merge with Manchester College

Mount Morris fire


Mount Morris College
Location Mount Morris, IL
Active 1879–1932
Type Private
Religious affiliation Church of the Brethren
Nickname Mountaineers / Mounders
Yearbook Life
Newspaper College Campus & Mountaineer
Colors Orange & Blue


MountMorris basketball.xls
Microsoft Excel Table 2.4 MB
MountMorris football.xls
Microsoft Excel Table 67.5 KB


campus & general


Old Sandstone / Men's dorm


College Hall


Ladies' Hall




students & faculty






Amphictyon and Philorhetorian Halls