top of page

Hedding College

Abington, Illinois



The University of Illinois has digitized the bulletins of Hedding College as well as the 1922 Orange, the school yearbook.   These are found on Internet Archive.


The cornerstone for Hedding College was laid in 1855 on land that had been set aside when the town of Abington was laid out in 1836; that first building was completed in 1857.  Under the auspices of the Central Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the school opened as Hedding Collegiate Seminary—named for Bishop Elijah Hedding—and Central Illinois Female College, offering equal educational opportunity for women.  By 1875 the name had been shortened to Hedding College.  By 1895-96 enrollment had reached 403 students, served by a faculty of 17.   Hedding was described as a “College of the Liberal Arts with Associated Departments” Those associated departments were a conservatory of music and a department of public speaking.  Hedding also had a four-year academy to prepare students for college.


Hedding had three literary Societies—Oliniana, Lincolnian, and Alpha Sigma.  It had chapters of the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. as well as a Volunteer Band, focusing on missionary work.  Each year in February the college observed a Day of Prayer. From the conservatory it had a college orchestra, men’s and women’s glee clubs and a church choir.


After World War I, Hedding revised curricula so that it offered literary-professional programs that combined the traditional liberal arts focus with courses in engineering, medicine, law, agriculture and business administration.


By 1924, however, the Methodists had determined that though the college was doing well, Illinois had too many Methodist colleges to subsidize and so ordered the closing of the college.  All records were transferred to Illinois Wesleyan College.  

Bricks and Mortar

The original building, called the Chapel, sat on two blocks of wooded land.  In 1873 Hedding College added a second building, a three-story brick structure connected to the chapel.  This is considered the main building. In 1904 a gymnasium was added; a girls dormitory—Nellie Blodgett Hall—followed in 1910, and a Boys dormitory—Novela McHard Hall—was added in 1915.   The chapel building was remodeled in 1917.


From 1924 to 1926 a two-year college occupied the Hedding campus.  For a short time thereafter a self-help college was there.  Still later, the Illinois Military School occupied the grounds until 1935, when college work ceased entirely on the campus.  In 1940 McHard Hall was sold and the athletic fields were sold shortly afterwards.  In 1947 the remaining campus buildings were razed.

Main Building and renovated chapel in 1921. (Orange


            Colors: Orange and Blue

            Team name: Orangemen


Hedding College made headlines in 1895 when its president Dr. Jarvis G. Evans banned football as “brutal and unmanly.” A few days later the student body held a mock funeral to bury a football.  While there is no record that Hedding had fielded a team prior to that, one of the funeral speakers is described as the team’s “half back.”  College Football Data Warehouse shows Hedding’s first season as 1903.  Two years later a Hedding player, Lawrence Schaffer, died from football injuries.  In 1910 Hedding was one of the founding members of the “Little Nineteen” Conference.  However, Orange teams were not especially successful, absorbing some horrendous defeats—100-0 to Illinois Wesleyan in 1915, 98-0 to Lombard in 1903, 76-0 to Culver-Stockton in 1916 and 72-0 to Augsburg in 1920.   


The school bulletin notes that women have a special physical education instructor.  Photos show a class exercising with wands.

(Above) the 1920-21 Orange. This team compiled a 6-6 record, but one win was over what is today Southern Illinois University. (Orange

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

bottom of page