The Hosford

Historic Renovation

Previously located on the top floor of the The University of Olivet’s Burrage Library, The University of Olivet’s archival collection, which extends back to the college’s founding in 1844, grew for decades due to the generosity of proud alumni and under the care of loving volunteers. In 2013, alumni Bob and Sarah Lawrence made a generous donation to formalize the archives to manage the collection and expand the archives’ role on campus. Dr. Nikki Magie, a professor and historian, was hired as the archivist and soon recruited two student interns. As Dr. Magie began to invite more and more students to volunteer and intern as student researchers, it quickly became evident that a larger, more permanent home was necessary for the The University of Olivet Archives.

In 2017, thanks to the continued generosity of the Lawrence family and several other donors, construction began on the Hosford’s historic renovation and the addition of an attached state-of-the-art building to better house the college’s collections in a secure, humidity-controlled, and fireproof environment. The Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives opened in the spring of 2019 as part of the college’s 175th anniversary as a chronological walk-through-time museum and archives with offices, meeting rooms, student workspaces, and a café.

A Rich History

The oldest building still standing on campus, the Hosford was built by and named for the Hosford family, who came to Olivet when the college’s existence seemed doomed after the death of its founder, Rev. John J. Shipherd, in 1844. The 23-year-old Oramel Hosford, who had recently graduated from Oberlin College, came to Olivet with his new wife, Abigail, who would become the principal of the Ladies’ Department. In 1849, five years after their arrival, the couple built a large house on campus where they could live and raise their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. This home came to be known as the Hosford House.

In addition to being a family home, the Hosford has served many purposes throughout its over 170-year existence, from being a home for the president to housing international students, the alumni association, various guests on campus, and even the town post office. Given the house’s rich history, it only seemed right that it would become the home of the campus’s history center. Thanks to the continued generosity of the Lawrence family and together with other donors, the house was renovated and expanded in honor of the college’s 175th anniversary in 2019. Since the Hosford family continued their involvement with The University of Olivet for many generations, those of us here today want to preserve and honor their legacy through Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives.

A Hub of Activity

As a history and learning center, the space is now a hub of activity with a steady flow of students and visitors participating in tours, research and events that all illuminate Olivet’s unique and socially progressive history. Each semester, a team of more than a dozen “Archive Avengers,” including interns and paid student researchers, learn about and share the college’s history with others through our diverse collection, including postcards, yearbooks and official documents photos, sports history, and so much more. The Center has become a favorite space for students of all majors to spend time, relax, study and learn.

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320 S. Main Street
Olivet, MI 49076

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