Albion Interactive History / Vulgamore Hall

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Buildings / Albion College

Vulgamore Hall, 1852
    Renovated Spring 1951

    Renovated Spring 1997

Block +
US Census Block # 34-118

Historic Designation +
Albion Area Historical Architectural Survey, 1985

The North Building, 47 by 80 feet, three stories high, is occupied in the first and second stories by the Department of Natural Science, Mathematics, Latin,Greek and Hebrew, History and Belles Letters, and Fine Arts. The third story is set apart for the use of the Literary Societies. Gildart, 87

Fire on January 28, 1923, damaged the top floor of North Hall. An article in the Albion Evening recorder of January 29, 1923 reported damage was estimated at $10,000, and that the fire was discovered at 10:20 pm in the northwest corner of a room on the South side of the third floor. At the time of the fire, the building contained the departments of home economics, business administration, economic, sociology,history and political science, parts of the modern language department, English department, and speech departments. The dean of women also had her office there.

The issue of the Recorder which reported the North Hall fire also indicated the college had offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any incendiarist responsible for the blaze. Gildart, 200

In 1938 alumni offices were transferred from North Hall to the Gasette building, providing additionalclassroom space in North Hall. The same year, the home economics department moved to the Old Gymnasium, opening even more classroom space in North Hall.

In 1950, the buildings and ground committee of the board of trustees approved plans for renovation of North Hall. During the spring of 1951, the contractor began work on the addition to North Hall and proceeded with the remodeling of the existing portion of this 100 year old structure. This project resulted in a new three story wing 34 feet by 73 feet, housing a large lecture room on the first floor seating over 200 people, with five classrooms,storage space, and five offices on the upper floors. Razing of the interior of the existing portion of the building made roomfor the construction of four floors in place of three to provide ten faculty offices, eight classrooms, two conference rooms, an accounting laboratory, a statistical laboratory, engineering drawing laboratory, blueprinting room, and commodious quarters for the use of the college Publications Council as a journalism unit. Here the editorial offices of the two major student publications [The Pleiad and the Albionian] are housed. Gildart, 236

Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.

Porch located on the west facade of the original North Hall with the title “Vulgamore Hall” over the door.

View of the east facade addition made in 1951.

From the Albion College Archives

Vulgamore Hall

Mel & Nan Vulgamore, Homecoming, n.d. This classroom and faculty office building is named for former president and first lady, Melvin and Nan Vulgamore.

Formerly known as North Hall, the renovated building is one of Albion’s oldest. North Hall was ready for students in the fall of 1852.

The building contained three recitation rooms and a laboratory on the lower floor; an expanded science center; a new art department on the second floor, as well as quarters for students and faculty and two music rooms; the third floor provided most of the student rooms and three music practice rooms with pianos. The living quarters were heated with wood stoves, which eventually caused disaster to strike a year later when a fire broke out and the Hall burned to the ground. (Fennimore, p.123)

North Building, n.d.

Thanks to the insurance settlement, the College was able to rebuild North Hall. The new building looked like the old North Hall from the outside and within housed a science lab and clasrooms on the ground level, an enlarged art department on the second floor, and the third floor was a large hall that extended the full length of the building, led to by a spiral stair in the middle of the building. This space was used as for chapel and public town meetings. Later, after 1870, the third floor was split into two rooms: the north room was headquarters for the Eclectic and Atheniades Societies (aka, Ticks), while the south room was used by the Clever Girls and Clever Boys (aka, Erosophian Society). (Fennimore, p.125)

In February of 1923, North Hall was struck again by fire; and this time it was believed to be arson. No one was ever indicted for the incident, though the pool of suspects was small. The cost of the damage done totalled $10,000. (Fennimore, p.472)

Aftermath of fire, 1923*

In 1949, the College used monies from a capital campaigns drive to remodel North Hall. The entire interior was to be rebuilt and a wing added to the east end for an auditorium and two floors of faculty office and classrooms. New windows were also installed and the exterior was refurbished to keep it more in line with other campus buildings. (Fennimore 570-71) Note that the columns on the ground floor all have different capitals.

All photographs are from the Albion College Archives Photograph Files, unless otherwise noted.


Networked Resources
Vulgamore Hall Classrooms
Religious Studies
Loffelman, Christa. (1996, Feb. 16). “Vulgamore Steps Down.” Pleiad. Retrieved 11 June 2003,
Palmer, Rebecca. (1996, Jan. 26). “Vulgamore returns, dispels rumors.” Pleiad. Retrieved 11 June 2003,
Halvorson, Brit. (1997, April 25). “Vulgamore leaves distinguished record.” Pleiad. Retrieved 11 June 2003,
Justus, Jamie. (1997, April 4). “New commencement speaker added.” Pleiad. Retrieved 11 June 2003,
Towne, David. (1996, Feb. 16). “The search begins: Replacing Vulgamore is in preliminary stage.” Pleiad. Retrieved 11 June 2003,

Source: Albion College Archives, 2003 [Downloaded July 3, 2003]

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