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Gorham History » Corthell Hall

Corthell Hall

It was here, in 1878, that the University of Southern Maine had its start as the Western Normal School. A school for teachers.
The building was first named "Recitation Hall," and was later named Corthell Hall to honor the first principal, William Corthell, who held that office from 1878 to 1905

Information from: usm.maine.edu says:

The site of the new Normal School (there were already two in Maine - Castine and Farmington) was a five acre lot of land owned by another J.T. McLellan, which was on Townhouse Hill facing High Street, as College Avenue was then called. Since the Gorham Academy had been only for boys, the Academy Trustees established the Female Seminary in 1836. It is said that Kate Douglas Wiggins attended the Seminary. In the 1870's, when public high schools became common in Maine, the school failed, as did many other private secondary schools of the time. The Trustees, who wanted the Normal School in Gorham, offered the buildings to the State for the use of the Normal School, and the Seminary building became the first dormitory for women.
The Seminary building was destroyed by fire in 1894.

Find out who Kate Douglas Wiggin was.

Photo of the Seminary building
Information from: usm.maine.edu says:

Designed by the architect F. H. Fassett, for the site which the Trustees had selected after a Gorham Town Meeting in March of 1878 unanimously voted to raise $15,000 toward its construction. ...According to the account now in the Archives, a total of $24,290.50 was raised for the building. The actual cost of everything (including 60 cents for the account book in which to keep the record) came to $23,170.39, leaving a balance of $120.11 when the account was audited. The new building was dedicated on December 26, 1878 and on January 29, 1879, the first class of 85 students entered, of which 45 graduated a year later. The addition to Corthell to bring it to its present size was built in 1905 and it was renovated in 1961, again in 1986. The USM School of Music resides in Corthell Hall.