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Norland Hall, built in 1865, was the home of Col. Alexander K. McClure, a Philadelphia newspaper publisher who had served in the Civil War and was friends with President Abraham Lincoln. Called Norland ("Northland") because it was situated north of Chambersburg, the house and fifty-two acres of land were purchased in 1868 for the purpose of founding the college. Two years later, in 1870, Wilson College was formally opened as a liberal arts school for women.
Norland Hall, the oldest building on campus, is recognized by Wilson students and alumnae as a symbol of the College as a whole. Its graceful arcaded porch and building facade are featured in many Wilson publications, and it is one of the most photographed buildings on the entire campus. Norland Hall was considered so pleasing in aspect that its "double," Edgar Hall, was later built a few hundred feet to the north, to mimic its beauty.
From National Register report:
It is a three-and-a-half story five-bay brick building in the Second Empire style. It is essentially a squarish symmetrically-arranged structure with a central projecting tower beneath a mansard roof. Semi-octagonal projecting bays extend from the second bay on the north and south elevations. Windows at the first and second stories are elongated with two-over-two pane sash. They are trimmed with molded flat-topped heads. The third-story windows are smaller with single pane sash. Windows in the front (east) wall of the tower consist of a doubled set at the second-story level beneath a bracketed hood, and triple-arched windows at the third story with a bracketed sill extension at the base. There is also a brick belt course at this level. Dormer windows extend from the mansard roof. The windows have round arched tops beneath deeply overhanging concave gables. All roof areas have broad overhangs with brackets usually set in pairs. Across the front of the house is a one-story wooden arcaded porch with repeated round arches which spring from molded collars on square columns. The main entrance is located in the center bay of the front elevation. The roofing material is slate arranged in an imbricated pattern. At the rear of the building, a covered walkway leads to McElwain and Thomson Halls.