Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles written by Robert Dunkelberger, Bloomsburg University Archivist and Historian, honoring the 150th anniversary of the construction of Bloomsburg University’s iconic building, Carver Hall.
March 28, 1866 – 150 years ago, the most important meeting in the history of Bloomsburg University was held, which led to the creation of the institution we know today. A number of citizens gathered in the Lecture Room of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church that evening for the purpose of taking action to open a good, first-class school in Bloomsburg, Pa. The meeting was chaired by the Honorable Judge William Elwell and Reverend J. R. Dimm of St. Matthew who spoke on the necessity of a good school of higher grade, its importance and advantages, and the urgent need for immediate action. The Bloomsburg Academy, which first opened in 1839 and was in operation off and on over the intervening 27 years, was currently inactive.
The guest speaker and reason for the meeting was an educator from Binghamton, N.Y. and a first-time visitor to Bloomsburg, Professor Henry Carver. Carver was then 45 years old and had previously been head of an academy in Cortlandville, N.Y., but more recently taught in Oakland, Calif. The loss of his left hand in a hunting accident the preceding October had resulted in him leaving his job, returning to his family in New York, and taking a recuperative trip down the Susquehanna River, finally ending up in Bloomsburg. While there, Carver inquired as to the need for higher education in the community. Because of his extensive and successful experience as a teacher, he was able to provide those attending the meeting with practical information on the process for opening a new school. After a long discussion, a committee was formed, headed by Judge Elwell, to take immediate action to open a good school and to begin a movement to erect suitable buildings to house it. What would become Bloomsburg University was on its way.