Driving through the small town of Moore’s Hill, it’s easy to sit back and relax. Narrow tree lined streets, dogs sleeping on front porches and a quiet Main Street lull the visitor into a sense of time lost. Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, an architectural treasure appears to rise behind the trees.
In the mid-1800s, John C. Moore and his contemporaries decided to build a college from the ground up in Moore’s Hill, a Southeastern Indiana town that had been founded by his father, the Rev. Adam Moore. These far sighted individuals joined forces with Southeastern Indiana’s Methodist Episcopal Church to open the Moore’s Hill Male and Female Collegiate Institute in 1856.
In 1907, construction of Carnegie Hall got underway, built in part with the financial support of its namesake Andrew Carnegie. By June 1908, it was completed. The building’s Collegiate Gothic and Jacobethan Revival design, arched doorways, marble steps, acoustically perfect auditorium and attractive setting came at a final cost of over $40,000. Ultimately, this rural Indiana college would be the alma mater of 487 graduates. Tragically, the first college building to stand on the property, the three-story Moore Hall, was lost to fire in late 1915.
From 1907 through 1916, Carnegie Hall housed administrative offices, science labs, classrooms and more, but the college struggled financially, and eventually the college was relocated to Evansville, where the institution continues today under the name of University of Evansville.
The vacant campus was given to the public school system for use as an elementary and high school. The last senior class graduated in 1978, and only nine years later, grade school students were dismissed from Carnegie Hall classrooms for the last time.
But thanks to dedicated volunteers, concerned school alumni and a lot of hard work, Carnegie Hall has survived financial woes, neglect and even threats of demolition. Operating from donations, memberships and grants, this beautiful building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public.
Visitors are invited to explore this historic building. Inside they will find three museums (Military, Local History and Academic), original chalkboards, countless photos, artifacts specific to the area, and much more. Everyone is encouraged to support and enjoy this historic site by attending special events such as the annual Winter Luminaria Walk, and to take advantage of the public tours – usually lead by an alumni of the school. Your friendly guide will share local stories and historic facts during these informative tours that are offered every Sunday (except some holidays) from 1-5, or by appointment.
Moore’s Hill is a small town located just off SR350 in Dearborn County, Indiana. Drive south on Manchester Street, turn right onto Main Street, and soon you’ll see the impressive 112 year old Carnegie Hall on the left.
For more information about tours, renting the facility, and upcoming special events, please call Linda Ickenroth at 812-744-4015 or visit: http://thecarnegiehall.org