University of Maine… Topsham?

Once the decision was made to start a new college for the purpose of teaching agriculture and the mechanical arts, a board of trustees was formed to be in charge of the creation of the college.  The board consisted of one person from each county, totaling sixteen members.  The President of the Board was Hannibal Hamlin, former Vice President under President Abraham Lincoln. The first, and as it would turn out only, hurdle this board would overcome was where to locate the college.
The first meeting of the board was April 25th 1865 where they  would begin to  address the issue of location.  There were a number of viable locations for the college.  Among them were Togus, Fairfield, Orrington, Topsham and, obviously, Orono.  Members of the board from western Maine had a great preference for Topsham.  At a meeting held September 14th 1865 the members present voted on a motion to locate the new college in Topsham.  This motion lost by a vote of six to five.  On January 25th 1866 a vote was held to locate the college in Orono.  Orono won the approval of the board by a vote of eight to seven.  Still, many members of the board were displeased with the outcome as they believed that Topsham provided many advantages over Orono.  From the moment the decision to locate the school at Orono was made, the harmony of the board was forever affected and the board began to fall apart, putting the fate of the new college in doubt.
On January 29th 1867 the board met for the last time.  At this meeting the members present signed a petition requesting that the current board be disbanded in favor for a new, smaller board.  In April of 1867, the  state legislature formed a new Board of Trustees.  With the decision of location settled, the biggest  challenge for the new board was the matter of funding.  Up to this point no funding had been received with which to construct the college.  Per the Morrill Act, none of the funds received from the sale of the land grant could be applied to the physical construction of the school.  With the creation of the new board, the state legislature saw fit to provide the sum of $20,000, and later another $10,000, at its disposal.  The citizens of Bangor raised the sum of $14,000 in aid for the new college.  The towns of Orono and Old Town had purchased the land for the college, at a cost of $11,000, and provided it to the state.  And so the financial order of the new college seemed to be coming into place, at least for the time being.
The land provided by Orono and Old Town was previously the White and Frost farms.  Each farm housed a set of buildings, all in need of significant repair.  One set of buildings would come to be home for the first presidents of the college.  The other set was provided for the school’s Farm Superintendent.  The first new building constructed would come to be named White Hall.  This hall was built where Wingate Hall now stands.  White Hall provided eighteen rooms; an office for the President, three classrooms, and fourteen rooms for students to live.
On September 21st 1868, the first twelve students were accepted to the Maine State College.  Over the next year, six more students would join the first class of students.  Four years later, six students would become the first graduating class of what would become the University of Maine, and thus began over one hundred and fifty years of tradition and excellence.

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