Our Town Mount Vernon-Lisbon: Cornell College History

By Travis Bockenstedt, Our Town Producer

MOUNT VERNON - Located in the heart of Our Town Mount Vernon, the Cornell College campus represents a rich history. As the only college-university to be named entirely to the National Register of Historic Places, each building here has a story to tell.

Professor Richard Thomas taught at Cornell College for 40-Years.
During that time he worked to write the history of 108, campus and surrounding buildings.

"Now every so many rows usually five, the brick layers will turn the bricks. And the reason for that is this is a double brick wall," said Thomas.

"The story as a whole is that here is a very important piece of American History. It's the story of how a small town and a small college have grown together. And theirs enough architectural integrity to tell that story well," said Thomas.

The many victorian homes surrounding the campus tell their own story.
Before the 1930's students were embedded in the community. The college didn't have adequate housing for them, so nearby families opened their doors each fall.

"This is where you had local parents. They made sure you were in at night," said Thomas.

"The nature of the campus very much contributes to the sense of community we find at Cornell and more broadly in Mount Vernon. A sense of community that pervades everything we do," said Cornell College President, Les Garner.

To Professor Thomas's knowlege, every building except one is still standing since the college was built. The college has worked to preserve its heritage, perhaps not intentionally, but through gradual growth.

"It's tangible evidence of the rich tradition enjoyed by Cornell and Mount Vernon. And that's important for students and alumni. It tells them they are part of history that has meaning and impact," said Garner.
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