On this day in Alabama history: The University of Alabama opened

On this day in Alabama history: The University of Alabama opened
The campus of the University of Alabama in 1859. View of the Quad, with the Rotunda at center and dormitories in the background. All of these buildings were destroyed by the Union army under the command of Brigadier General John T. Croxton on April 4, 1865. (University of Alabama Libraries: William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library, Wikimedia)

April 18, 1831

The University of Alabama opened as the state’s first public college with four faculty members and 94 students. The Legislature established the school in 1820 and appointed a board of trustees, who selected the state’s then-capital, Tuscaloosa, as the university’s home. Designed by state architect William Nichols, the campus included seven buildings: two faculty houses, two dormitories, the laboratory, the hotel (now Gorgas House), and the Rotunda. Slave labor sourced most of the materials for the buildings from university land, quarrying sandstone for bricks and cutting lumber from timber tracts. In 2016, the university boasted a total of 299 buildings and an enrollment of 37,665 students.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

Related Stories