Female Institute Building
Although not mentioned in the charter drafted by Stephen W. Taylor for the University at Lewisburg, which was signed by Governor Francis R. Shunk on February 5, 1846, a female seminary had been envisioned by the founders of the university as an integral part of the institution. Girls as well as boys enrolled in the “high school” in the “lecture room of the Baptist Church” that was opened by Taylor in 1846. Later, the girls attended classes with boys in the new Academy Building after its completion in 1849.
The Construction of the Female Institute Building in 1858
In 1852, the University at Lewisburg purchased the building on Lot No. 205 at the corner of St. Louis and South Second Streets from James K. Casey, Esq., for the sum of $3,500.00. This building was used as temporary housing for young ladies from its purchase until 1856 when the University sold the house for $5,000.00. In November of the same year, a contract for a new building on St. George Street, between South Fifth and Sixth Streets, was given to L.B. Root Co. to construct the building "with the exception of the furnaces and ranges for the sum of $16,500.00." The architect was Stephen Decatur Button (1813-1897) of Philadelphia who was a devotee of the Italianate style.
When completed for occupancy on September 20, 1858, the Female Institute Building contained offices, music and recitation rooms, a dining hall and kitchen, and a third-floor dormitory. Both teachers and students lived in the building. This building was the first building on the women's campus, which consisted of six acres bounded by St. George, Sixth and Loomis Streets. The building was within the borough limits.
Charges for Heat, Board, Room and Light in 1865
The building was heated by "heated air" from several furnaces, which were located in the basements of the wings and the center of the building. Separate charges were made for heating the public and private rooms. In 1865, the annual charge for fuel for public rooms was $4.00 and the charge for private rooms was $6.00. The charge for board, room and light per term was $40.00. Gas provided the lighting. The "Bath Rooms" for the young ladies were "...provided with accommodations for both warm and cold ablutions."
Courses of Study and Charges
The Institute was both a day school and a boarding school, which offered a one-year preparatory class as well as a three-year regular program that led to a diploma rather than a degree. Students in the Female Institute took courses in mathematics (algebra and geometry), science (natural philosophy, astronomy, physiology, geology and chemistry), language (Latin or French), rhetoric, English Literature, Moral Philosophy, Mental Philosophy, religion, and the Constitution of the United States.
In 1865, the Female Institute offered a juvenile class, a one-year preparatory class and a three-year regular course. The regular course consisted of three terms per academic year, which was a reflection of the practice in the Academy and the College.
Tuition for the Regular course was $12.00 per term and students were charged $1.00 for "repairs by general average." Additional fees were assessed per session for instrumental music ($14.00), use of piano ($3.00), vocal music ($1.00), German ($5.00), painting in oil ($12.00), and drawing ($6.00).
Life in the Institute in 1865
The Principles of the Institute were set forth in the Catalogue:
Moral culture, physical education and recreation were important parts of the education provided by the Institute:
William Gundy Owens, Class of 1880, has provided a description of life in the Female Institute in the mid-1870’s.
As can be seen, special precautions were taken to ensure that the young ladies of the Institute were isolated from the boys in the Academy and the young men in the College.
Academic Calendar in 1865
The school year was divided into three terms. In 1864-1865, the first term of study began on Thursday morning, September 22 and ended on December 23. The second term began on Tuesday morning, January 3, 1865, and ended on March 29. A vacation of three weeks followed. The third term began Thursday morning, April 29 and the school year ended Thursday, July 27. A vacation of eight weeks followed before the first term of the 1865-1866 school year began on Thursday morning, September 21.
Lewisburg in 1865
Although most students at the Institute were from Lewisburg and central Pennsylvania, some students came from a greater distance. Probably to attract students from outside the local area, the Catalogue contained a glowing description of Lewisburg and its inhabitants:
Young ladies from distant parts of Pennsylvania and other states could feel safe in Lewisburg.
Teachers and Students in 1865
In 1865, Miss Lucy W. Rundell was principal and Teacher of Mental Science and Painting; Miss Harriet E. Spratt was her assistant and Teacher of Mathematics. Seven teachers including Rundell and Spratt taught one hundred and eighty-five females in the Institute. The other teachers were Miss C. Hilker, Teacher of English Branches; Mrs. L.W. Roussel, Teacher of French and Music; Miss Emily H. Rundell, Teacher of Natural Sciences; Miss Mary E. Brown, Assistant Teacher of Music; and Miss Amaly Volkmar, Assistant Teacher of Music. the positon of Professor of Music was vacant. In addition Mr. Francis W. Tustin was a Lecturer on Natural Sciences. Mrs. Harrietta S. Delp was the Matron.
The faculty in the Institute changed quite frequently. For example, in 1863-64, Miss Augusta B. Tucker was Teacher of Natural Sciences; by the next school year she had been replaced by Miss Emily H. Rundell who was replaced the following school year by Miss Mary A. Hakes.
Seventeen women graduated in 1865. Of these graduates, fourteen were from Pennsylvania, two were from New York, and one was from New Jersey. Of the Pennsylvanians, three were local: two from Lewisburg and one from Milton.
"high school" Oliphant, p. 31; Linn, p. 546
"in the lecture room..." Linn, p. 546
"with the exception of..." BT '46-'82, p. 229 (3/27/1857)
"...provided with..." FIC '64, p. 15
"repairs by general..." BT '46-'82, p. 451 (7/26/1865)
"The first object of..." FIC '65, p. 20
"Religious instruction is..." to ** , ib., p. 21
"Regular and systematic..." to **, ib., p. 22
"The pupils are required..." to **, ib.
"When [the building] was..." Owens, File 4-4-55, p. 3
"Lewisburg is delightfully...", ib., p. 19
The major source for the information on this page is
the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1846-1882
(BT '46-'82). Additional sources are Oliphant, Rise of
Bucknell; Theiss, Centennial History; Mauser, Centennial
History; Linn, Annals; William Gundy Owens, “From
File of William Gundy Owens”, four pages typescript dated in pencil
4-4-55, which are reminiscences prepared for the editors of the Bucknell
Alumni Monthly, Bucknell University Archives; and the 10th Annual
Catalogue of the University Female Institute at Lewisburg, Pa., For
The Year Ending July 28, 1864, (FIC
'64) , the 11th Annual Catalogue of the University
Female Institute at Lewisburg, Pa., For The Year Ending July 27, 1865
(FIC '65) and the
12th Annual Catalogue of the University Female Institute
at Lewisburg, Pa., For The Year Ending July 26, 1866 (FIC
This building in other years: 1895
| 1915 | 1945
| 1965 | 1985
Back to the Bucknell History Page | Back to the 1865 Page