On This Date In Twin Cities History - February 26, 1853

Old Main Hall at Macalaster College in St. Pual circa 1887 (MHS)On this date in 1853, the Rev. Edward Duffield Neill obtains a charter for the Baldwin School. This college preparatory school which opened in June 1853 was the forerunner of St. Paul’s Macalester College.

Neill served as a chaplain in the Civil War and held positions in three U.S. presidential administrations. In 1849, he traveled to the Minnesota Territory to do missionary work. He founded two churches and served as the state’s first superintendent of public education and first chancellor of the University of Minnesota.

In 1874, Neill established Macalester College. Benefactor Charles Macalester, a prominent Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist, made the establishing gift by donating the Winslow House, a noted summer hotel in Minneapolis. In 1881, a group of investors purchased 160 acres between Minneapolis and St. Paul, granting forty of those acres to Macalester College for its campus. In 1884 Macalester’s first building, the east wing of Old Main, was completed.

Today the campus of Macalester College has expanded to 54 acres and has a total enrollment of over 2,100 students.

Image: Old Main Hall at Macalester College in St. Paul circa 1887 (MNHS)