Founding of Huntington University
Central College opened in September 1897. The institution changed its name to Huntington College in 1917, and became Huntington University in 2005.
"A Direct Answer to Prayer"
The founding of Huntington University has been called a work of divine providence. In 1896, the General Board of Education of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ laid plans to open a new institution of higher learning.
But before these plans were made known, an unsolicited proposal was received from the Huntington Land Association. Three entrepreneurs (among them a United Brethren minister) proposed a strategic partnership: the Land Association would donate a three-story brick building, additional campus grounds, and operational cash. In return, the Church would equip and operate a school, and sell lots in the surrounding neighborhood. Called a direct answer to prayer, the opportunity was "precipitated upon us like a clap of thunder," said Bishop Milton Wright (whose sons, Orville and Wilbur, would be the first to fly).
Through this cooperation of Church and community the University's cornerstone was laid in August 1896. A year later, the Huntington Herald estimated that 1,200 people turned out for the dedication of the University. "Very impressive were the services at Central College," reported the Herald, using the institution's original name. "The new Central College was dedicated Tuesday afternoon, and the doors of the institution thrown open to all for their education as taught from the Word of God."
Prayer of Dedication
Bishop Wright offered the prayer of dedication on September 21, 1897.
It has been Thy good pleasure, O Lord, to give Thy people this property, this building, and these grounds to be used for the purpose of Christian education. Now, with hearts of gratitude to Thee, we desire to consecrate this edifice and these grounds to Thee. And now, O Lord, we dedicate this building from tower to foundation-stone with all its furniture of any and every kind, and all that may hereafter be put into it in harmony with piety and propriety, and dedicate these grounds with all improvements which may be made now or hereafter.... We dedicate all these to Thee, O Lord, to the cause of Christian education, in the name of the triune God, Amen.