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Iowa Wesleyan College grew out of the creation of the Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute, which was established through An Act of Incorporation passed by the Territorial Legislature in 1844, prior to Iowa becoming a state. The history of the building's construction is documented in the daybook of Rev. Aristides J. Huestis. Huestis was hired as financial agent and was responsible for raising the money for the building and also did a great deal of the construction himself. Upon completion he was hired as the first president of the Institute, lived on the second floor with his family, and also worked as a teacher. The Mt. Pleasant Institute opened in January of 1846, making the Institute Building, now known as Pioneer Hall, the oldest or one of the oldest educational buildings west of the Mississippi River still in use.
In 1973 $35,000 was spent on the restoration and improvement of Pioneer Hall. Not much has been done in 30 years and the interior of the building is showing signs of hard use.