In the final weeks leading up to North Central College’s 11.11.11 Sesquicentennial Celebration, North Central Pride will present moments from our College’s 150-year history. This moment features the birth of Plainfield College.
In April 1859, the Illinois Conference of the Evangelical Association voted to establish an institution of higher learning and the Wisconsin and Iowa Conferences quickly followed suit. After much consideration, Plainfield, Illinois, was selected in January 1861 as the location for this new college because of the convenience to the train lines in Joliet via new plank roads.
The new institution was named Plainfield College, in honor of the town now hosting the College, although the trustees chose to change the name to North-Western College in 1864. A building was quickly constructed on the plot of land north of the intersection of Lockport and Dillman streets and Plainfield College opened its doors for instruction on November 11, 1861.
Because the Evangelical Association was a largely German-speaking church body, the College reflected this with course work that was taught in both English and German.
And, in an era when many institutions instructed only men or only women, Plainfield College was coeducational from the beginning. The church believed in educated congregants, not just trained preachers. In fact, the first faculty as well as the first graduating class in 1866 included women.
This 150 moment was compiled by student researchers and Archivist Kimberly Butler.
The story of Plainfield College is told in greater detail in part one of a five-part Sesquicentennial documentary series titled “North Central College: 150 Years. A Promising Start,” produced by Naperville Community Television. Part one, “1861-1916—A College Is Born,” debuted during Cornerstone Week in May 2011 and will be shown again at various times during Homecoming Week, Nov. 9-13, 2011. The DVD is also available for purchase; click here to purchase and for more information.