Dedicated in 2007 as an academic and fine arts building, North Central College’s Meiley-Swallow Hall has connections to founders of the College.
The Evangelical Association was the founding church of North Central College. When the College relocated to Naperville in 1870, the Zion “Old Brick Church” Congregation (now Community United Methodist Church) was instrumental in funding the College’s relocation expenses and became the religious home of many of the professors and their families.
However, in 1890, a split occurred in the denomination and, as a result of this schism, a second Evangelical congregation was organized. Originally called the Second Evangelical Church, Grace Church first conducted services in Scott’s Hall.
In 1891, the first building for Grace Church was dedicated at Benton and Loomis streets. With a growing congregation, Grace Church built a new house of worship, and on Nov. 14, 1909, its new building at the corner of Ellsworth Street and Van Buren Avenue at 31 S. Ellsworth St. was dedicated.
In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the new United Methodist Church. This resulted in three United Methodist Churches within a mere three blocks in Naperville’s Historic District. Grace United Methodist Church decided to move south of town and on Feb. 20, 1971, dedicated its third building at 300 E. Gartner Road.
North Central College acquired the former Grace Evangelical Church in 2004. After extensive renovations, the building was rededicated at the College’s Homecoming in 2007 and named Meiley-Swallow Hall. The building’s name recognizes the vision and generosity of life trustee Judy G. Meiley Stevenson by honoring her family’s long connections with the College. A business leader, entrepreneur and friend of the arts and the College, Stevenson was president and treasurer of Magnetrol International, Inc. She died in 2010.
Meiley-Swallow Hall now houses the interactive media studies, fine arts and theatre departments, including art studios and faculty offices, and features a Mac computer lab, art gallery and 240-seat thrust theatre.
Photo, left, ca. 1917