1854 College Frame Structure

By 1834 the Cane Hill population had grown and there was a need for a school to educate the youth. On October 28th, 1834 the Cumberland Presbyterians established Cane Hill School. This first school was located north of modern day Cane Hill in an area known as White Church. The school building was described by W. C. Braly as “a substantial, two-room, hewed-log house”.

On December 26, 1850 the school changed its name to Cane Hill Collegiate Institute. This was a move that corresponded with the school receiving its charter from the Arkansas state legislature to award high school diplomas. The school location also moved in 1850 from the northern end of Cane Hill to its current location. The earliest structure in this area was a two-story brick building with two rooms.

On December 15, 1852 an act was signed by the Arkansas state legislature that approved four year college degrees at Cane Hill. The name was changed at this time to Cane Hill College.


In 1854 a second building was built on the college grounds. It was a two-story frame building with white lap board siding. It housed an assembly room, library, laboratory, and classrooms. No photographs of these first two buildings are known at this time. However a sketch of the frame building can be seen above.

In 1858 a two-story brick building measuring seventy-three feet by seventy-five feet was erected at a cost of $6,000. It was a simple, clasicly detailed structure, likley designed in the Greek Revival style of architecture 


Completing the early Cane Hill College campus was a two-story woodframe I-house with a two-story front porch and rear room that served as a dormitory.


In 1861 the college closed, as most of its students and some professors were enlisted in the Civil War. The dormitory was one of the only buildings to survive the war and was used as a Civil War hospital and remained vacant until 1937 when it was torn down. The other three buildings were all burned in November 1864 by Charles R. Jennison and the 15th Kansas Cavalry (Jennison's Jayhawkers). In additon to the burning of structures in town, Jennison also hung John Crozier, Lige Leach and a Mr. Whinery. This excessive violence in Cane Hill  by Jennison, along with other atrocities at Pea Ridge led to his court martial following the war.

1858 College Brick Structure


The evolution of the Cane Hill Female Seminary, founded in 1852, is contemporary with that of the college. It was located further to the south of the Cane Hill community in Clyde. The Female Seminary was originally housed in a two-room frame house which was replaced  in 1856 by a two-story frame building. The latter structure was destroyed during the Civil War.

Above: Sketch of 1868 College Frame Structure
Right: 1868 Frame Structure

Starting in August of 1865 the college reopened for classes following the Civil War. In 1868 a wood frame structure was constructed to replace those lost during the Civil War. It was 43 feet by 75 feet and stood where the earlier brick building had been lost. In 1875


This last wood frame building would not be used long. On October 10th, 1885 an arsonist set fire to this structure. The legend says that he was a moonshiner ran  out of town and came back seeking revenge. On October 22, 1885 the College Board met and appproved the construction of the current building on the site. It was built by J. P. Carnahan for $5,700. The building was completed in December 1886 with four school rooms on the first floor with an auditorium on the second floor to be used for worship services. Classes resumed in January 1887.

Final College Building Constructed in 1886

Following college closure in 1891 the building continued to be used for religious services and primary education. Likely suffering from some dispreair, it was heavily altered in 1931. New larger window openings were created and patch work was carried out with modern bright red bricks and Portland cement. These inappropriate alterations created long term structural problems. By 2014 the building was in serious disrepair, with the second story auditorium unusable. A 3 phase restoration project began on the College. Phase 1 included foundation underpinning, phase 2 (currently underway) restores the original windows, doors, and wood shingle roof. Phase 3 will begin in the Spring of 2016 and includes interior work, as well as site plan changes.

~1895 Photograph of kids attending primary school in the building
Cane Hill College Building in ~2013 showing the 1931 alterations
Construction work in 2015 focused on restoration of the building's 1886 appearance including original windows, doors, masonry, and wood shingle roof.
Newly restored and improved 200 person auditorium complete with a sound system, projector, and projector screen.
Restoration in progress on the east side of the college.
Completely restored Historic Cane Hill College in 2017.

The now restored Cane Hill College building opened its doors to the public on May 13, 2017 at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The college is now a beautifully restored part of history complete with many original aspects of the building alongside new modern additions for events. Historic Cane Hill College and the surrounding grounds is a fantastic place for weddings, receptions, reunions, and other events. You can learn more about renting facilities for your events HERE.

Cane Hill College is also available for tours! If you would like to schedule a tour or group tour, check out the tours page HERE.