top of page

Rock Hill College

Ellicott City, Maryland



Ellicott City is in the Baltimore metro area, so numerous newspaper articles about Rock Hill College appeared in Baltimore and Washington newspapers.   History of Education in Maryland 1867-1926 profiles the school.  The Spalding Official Football Guide contains photos of the football team.



Rock Hill Academy operated at Ellicott City 1824-1850.  In 1857 the Christian Brothers purchased the campus and opened Rock Hill College. In 1865 the school was chartered by the State of Maryland to award degrees of A.B. and A.M. 


Rock Hill College had two levels of instruction. The preparatory division accepted boys as young as nine, educating them through the high school grades.  The collegiate division had both classical and scientific courses of study.  The school prided itself on its study of languages and its study of mathematics, emphasizing a practical application of these disciplines.  Some early graduates received degrees in civil and mechanical engineering.  In addition to the degree programs, Rock Hill offered certificates for mastery of commercial subjects.  


There were three written exams each year.  Students performing below 60% for two periods were subject to dismissal.


Since an aim of the school was to “cultivate the heart and mold the Christian gentleman,” school governance was paternalistic.  Students had to remain on the school grounds; they were not allowed to use tobacco; and their mail was subject to inspection.  However, newspaper accounts show a vibrant campus life.  There was an annual elocution contest with medals for the winners.  Holidays such as Washington’s Birthday led to entertainments involving the band, orchestra, glee club, and choir.  Celebrations featured orations and dramatic performances from the Gibbons Literary Society and the Washington Irving Literary Union. 


Enrollment figures for 1872 showed 166 students, 44 of whom were collegiate students.


A fire in 1922 destroyed the main building, forcing the school to close. 

Bricks and Mortar

The campus of Rock Hill College “was situated on the slope of one of the picturesque hills overlooking Ellicott City.”  The Main Building had been a part of the Rock Hill Academy.  The campus, called “Forty Acres” contained a natural amphitheater used as a sports ground for the school’s athletic teams.  Sports facilities also included a gymnasium and a bowling alley.


While the 1922 fire destroyed the main building,  the eighteen-inch thick walls stood.  A public elementary school building was constructed within these walls in 1926 and was used until 1974.  The Baltimore Sun reported in 1991 that upscale condominiums were being built inside the old walls.






Buildings and grounds of Rock Hill College (History of Education in Maryland,<;view=2up;seq=246>) asccessed 10-18-2017


      Colors: White and Blue

      Team name:  Some newspaper accounts refer to

                             the team as “Victors.”    This may

                             refer to baseball success.


History of Maryland Colleges notes that “love of athletic sports has been encouraged.”  To that end an annual school athletic competition was held in the spring, with medals awarded to the winners of track and field events.  Both junior and college teams represented the school in baseball, football, and basketball.  A 1915 article praising an undefeated “Victor” baseball team noted that every minute when students were not in class or study period was spent in “energetic and well-directed practice.”


As early as 1885, Rock Hill College had organized a baseball club, competing against Baltimore area clubs.  A schedule in the 1890’s showed games against Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Mount St. Joseph’s, as well as academy and independent clubs.




According to College Football Data Warehouse, football began in the mid 1890’s.  The 1910 Rock Hill team played against Washington College, Baltimore Polytechnic, Fredericksburg College, Baltimore City College, Eastern College, Catholic University, and Richmond College.  In other years Rock Hill played against Gallaudet College and both branches of what is now the University of Maryland.

1908 Rock Hill College football team. Photo courtesy of Howard County Historical Society, Photo 881.

Rock Hill football_edited.jpg

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

bottom of page