History of Culver-Stockton College
In the 1850s, D. Pat Henderson and other Disciples of Christ leaders were interested in creating an institution to educate young men and women. In 1853, they were granted a charter by the State of Missouri to establish Christian University, in which classes began in 1855 – the first coeducational college west of the Mississippi River. Dr. James Shannon became the first president the following year.
During the Civil War, classes were suspended while federal troops occupied the college’s only building, Old Main. Canton, divided in loyalty between North and South, was seen as important for monitoring activities of Southern troops. Under the leadership of Ben H. Smith, the college reopened in 1865 but made little progress until Dr. Carl Johann became president in 1902. When Old Main burned in 1903, the building was replaced by Henderson Hall.
Robert Stockton and Mary Culver, both of St. Louis, played a vital role in the college’s history, making generous donations for residence halls, a new gymnasium, and grants for faculty salaries. To recognize their generosity, the college trustees voted to change the name of the college from Christian University to Culver-Stockton College in 1917.
Most of the buildings currently on campus were built after 1937. Since 1980, many of the major buildings have been renovated and others build.
The newest building, the Science Center, opened in 2002.
In May 2003, a tornado struck campus and the city of Canton. Henderson Hall was damaged, and the landmark dome (used by river captains for navigation) was ripped off. The Field House was leveled; and one fraternity – Zenge Hall – was damaged beyond repair. Other buildings received minor damage, and 300 trees were brought down on the hill behind Henderson Hall. Fortunately, no one was injured. The dome was replaced, and the buildings were repaired or replaced.