Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson
This photograph is one of the earliest held in the
Dickinson College Archives. It was taken in front of the President's
house, then located in the eastern section of East College, in 1860. Full
identification of the party would be very difficult but certainly identified
is Miss Mary Johnson, who is the girl sitting in the center of the photograph.
Later known as Mary Dillon, she was the daughter of Herman Merrills Johnson,
the then President of Dickinson College who served in that post from 1860
to 1868. (More
on Mary Dillon below) The construction of the structure that was to
become known as "Old East" was completed on November 5, 1836 at a cost
of $9,588 by architect and builder Henry Myers. East College was
originally used for dormitory and classroom space but the eastern section
designated as living space for the President of the college and his family.
East College was the home of seven Dickinson College Presidents, beginning
with John Price Durbin (1834-1845) and ending with James Andrew McCauley
John Price Durbin (1834 - 1845)
J.T. Peck 1848-52
Charles Collins 1852-1860
H.M.Johnson 1860-68 R.L.Dashiell 1868-72
Andrew McCauley 1872-1888
Upon his arrival at the college in 1889, George
Edward Reed decided to move his residence, purchasing a house at the corner
of High and West streets. It was originally a one-story brick house
and was built in 1833 by John Reed, a jurist and the author of Pennsylvania
Blackstone, who held law classes in the basement. The house was purchased
by Robert C. Woodward in 1855. Around this time, Allison Memorial
church was built on the grounds of the house and remained there until 1954,
when it burned down due to an electrical fire. Reed purchased the
house in January, 1890 at a price of $8,000 and an additional one and a
half stories were added. Later that same year, the house was turned
over to Dickinson College and has been the residence of eleven college
Presidents since. Once covered with stucco and paint, the facade
of the house was sand-blasted in 1979 to reveal the natural brick.
George Edward Reed (1889 - 1911)
Presidents' House, pre 1979
After President Reed purchased the house on the corner
of West and High streets, the eastern section of East College was converted
into additional dormitory space. Each pair of students was provided
with three rooms to share. They were each given a room of their own
to sleep in, while the third space was used as a common room. Sections
used as dormitory space also included a number of recitation rooms.
Two of the sections had these rooms on the third floor, while the third
section room was located on the second floor.
The porch that originally graced the front of the
the eastern section of the building was removed in 1924 when the building
underwent extensive renovation. Stairs that led to the second floor
entrance to the building were also removed and what had once been the basement
area was incorporated as the new ground level entrance. East College
has housed the Commons Club along with other fraternities, the Deans of
Men and Women, the college chaplain, and even served as the headquarters
for the Army training program in World War II.
East College 1933
Between 1968 and 1970, East College was
completely renovated and designated as the Bernard Center for the Humanities.
Renovations were more severe, in fact, than intended, since the building
substantially collapsed while these were going on. The renewed building
repeats the exterior design of the first East College, even using the original
stone. It now houses the departments of Classics, English, Philosophy
and Religion.In 1995, the designation "East College" was
returned to the structure.
East College 1998
The young woman posing in the subject photograph
went on to be very well known in Carlisle. In 1906, as Mrs. Mary
Dillon, she published a novel entitled In Old Bellaire. This
book was actually a portrait of social life in Carlisle, as well as the
town itself, during the time that her father was the President of the College.One may use the guide below to read the novel.
Key to names and places in In Old Bellaire
Old Tomlinson - Dickinson College Portland Street - Pomfret Street Langdon Street - Louther Street Harcourt Street - Hanover Street Main Street - High Street College Street - College Street Henrysburg - Harrisburg Marystown - Hagerstown Northumberland Valley - Cumberland Valley Dr. Charlton - Dr. Johnson, President of Dickinson
College Miss Lucy Charlton - Miss Johnson (Mary Dillon)
Partly in recognition for her book, Mary Dillon became the first woman
to receive an honorary degree from Dickinson College in 1908. The
following poem was found among her personal papers, written in her own
handwriting; it was never published during her lifetime.
In Old Carlisle No skies were ever half so blue Or bent on earth so sweet a
smile As those long years ago I knew In old Carlisle, in old Carlisle No grass e'er so fresh a green Or which to lie and dream the while And gaze at heaven's blue between Tall tree tops as in dear Carlisle No roses ever blushed so red, Or with such witchery could will To paths where happy lovers tread The road to bliss, as in Carlisle No friends were ever half so near Or could so well the hours beguile As those I loved and held most dear
In old Carlisle, in old Carlisle
Sources: Charles Coleman Sellers, Dickinson College: A History,
James Henry Morgan Dickinson College 1783 - 1933,
Dickinson College Special Collections (Presidents' House
pamphlet and the Mary Dillon drop file)