Newton/North Newton Register of Historic Places

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The properties listed below have been named to the Newton/North Newton Register of Historic Properties because they possess significant historical, archeological and/or architectural qualities.
The Bethel College Administration Building was completed in 1893 in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style.  It was designed by Proudfoot and Bird of Wichita.

Newton was interested in having a college of their own, and formed the Newton College Association to begin the process of establishing a college in 1886.  Two sites divided the community for location of the college, one to the north and one to the south.  The Newton College Association met and after reviewing the two sites, selected the southern location.  However, those that favored the north would not give up so easily and they approached the Halstead Seminary, which was intended to be a temporary Mennonite higher education institution with an offer in April of 1887.  This offer included “subscriptions of land and city lots valued by the donors at approximately $85,000, and money subscriptions to the amount of $15,000.  The real estate, consisting of approximately 120 acres, was to be deeded to Bethel College as soon as building operations began.”

Ultimately, the Mennonite Conference accepted the offer and Bethel College was chartered with the State of Kansas on May 23, 1887.  The first Board of Directors was formed and included: J. J. Krehbiel, Bernhard Warkentin, Rev. David Goerz, H. H. Ewert, D. C. Ruth, Abraham Quiring, C. R. McLain, J. M. Ragsdale, and A. B. Gilbert.  By October 1887, building plans, submitted by Proudfoot and Bird out of Wichita, were accepted with construction starting in December.  The Board determined they would not go into debt during construction, so when funding ran out, construction was halted and not started again until sufficient funds were available.  Unfortunately, funding was slow in coming.  The land donated in the agreement, was valued at their 1887 valuation, which was highly overvalued as it was in the midst of a real estate boom.  This boom busted as early as 1889 and land values dropped.  This resulted in the sale of lots that did not match the intended amount and funding for the construction fell short.  It is through the creative fundraisings efforts of Board member Rev. David Goerz that the construction was able to be completed.

The building was dedicated on September 20, 1893, opening for business the following day with the enrollment of 74 students.  The road from groundbreaking to completion was a hard won effort and the building is the heart of the campus today.  It also serves as a tribute to David Goerz, and his fellow Directors, and their commitment to the completion of the building and the realization of a Mennonite institution of higher education for the region.

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