Adrian College says
Adrian College evolved from a theological institute founded by the Wesleyan Methodist denomination at Leoni, Michigan, a small town east of Jackson, in 1845. In 1855 this institute united with the Leoni Seminary, a Methodist Protestant institution, to establish Michigan Union College.
Legend states that members of the College became concerned about the environment at Leoni, which was nicknamed "Whiskey Town." In 1859, this concern and other circumstances made it advisable to relocate or close. In the same year, Dr. Asa Mahan, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Adrian and a well-known educator, was encouraged by citizens of the community to establish a college. Mahan had served as the first president of Oberlin College and, before that, as an officer of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Mahan and his colleagues invited the officials and supporters of the closing Michigan Union College to join in establishing the new college at Adrian. After the invitation was accepted, the story says, the library holdings were loaded on an ox-cart in March 1859, and transported 60 miles to the new campus site on the west side of Adrian.
On March 28, 1859, Adrian College was chartered by the Michigan legislature as a degree-granting institution with Dr. Mahan as its first president. Through a series of consolidations and denomination unifications, the College has maintained its relationship with The United Methodist Church.
For almost 100 years, the campus consisted of several brick buildings stretching along Madison Street. Most of today's campus was woods and fields. In the mid-1950s, the College, encouraged by the generosity of Ray W. Herrick, embarked in a building program that established the basis for the current campus.
Today, when students walk in the area bounded on the east by Madison Street and edged by Downs Hall, Valade Hall, Cornelius House and Herrick Tower, they tread on the same ground that students hurried across in 1859 as they rushed to classes, meals and social events. Now, however, the campus consists of 100 acres, over 20 academic and service buildings and 10 residence halls, plus apartments and themed housing.