A standing room only crowd gathered in Freed-Hardeman University’s Chapel Hall, Thursday, Nov. 8, for the re-opening and dedication of Old Main, constructed in 1908 by A.G. Freed and N.B. Hardeman.
The event, which coincided with Homecoming, was a part of the observation of FHU’s 150th year.
“Old Main is woven into the fabric of Freed-Hardeman,” Brad Bradshaw, great-grandson of N.B. Hardeman, said. “It will continue to serve the academic and spiritual needs of students. Old Main is the heart, the soul, the essence of Freed-Hardeman.”
FHU President David R. Shannon welcomed the audience and thanked those who had assisted in funding the restoration project. “Old Main has served this university well,” he said. “Chapel Hall feels like an old friend. We owe a great debt to Mr. Freed and Mr. Hardeman.”
Erin Adams, former FHU archivist and now director of education at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville, presented the Founders’ Day program in Room 113 of Old Main. She provided additional information about the iconic building. An FHU alumna, she worked on the nomination of Old Main for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Old Main is Chester County’s oldest public building; it was added to the National Register in 2012.
Hardeman and Freed joined forces Nov. 7, 1907, to break ground for what would become National Teachers Normal and Business College. They borrowed the money and signed their names to the mortgage. The cornerstone was laid Nov. 30, 1907, in a separate ceremony. Local craftsmen using local materials constructed the building designed by well-known architect Hubert T. McGee, a native of Jacks Creek and an alumnus of Georgie Robertson Christian College.
The building was restored in 2018-2019 at a cost of approximately $5.5 million contributed by donors interested in its preservation. The exterior and common areas of the building, including the lobbies, stairs, halls and Chapel Hall have been restored to their original condition. However, since Old Main remains an academic facility, classrooms and offices have been equipped with current technology and teaching tools.
Additional participants in the program included the following: Freed-Hardeman University Chorale; John Law, chairman of the FHU Board of Trustees; Kay Tignor, co-chairman of the Chester County campaign committee; Bobby King, Henderson mayor; C.J. Vires, vice president of academics and provost; and Sam Boyd, an FHU student.
The Department of Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Communication and Literature now occupy the building’s offices and classrooms. Long known for its excellent acoustics, Chapel Hall was the site for a period of congregational singing Saturday evening, Nov. 9, during Homecoming.
158 East Main Street
Henderson, TN 38340
FHU / Dickson
FHU / Memphis
5565 Shelby Oaks Drive
Memphis, TN 38134
855 Highway 46 South
Dickson, TN 37055
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