Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Old University of Chicago
Old University of Chicago

Old University of Chicago

The first, or “Old,” University of Chicago was established in 1857 by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas as a Baptist mission school. Though not himself a Baptist, Douglas was willing to support an institution of higher learning that could promote the cultural and commercial growth of Chicago. The university stood on 10 acres at Cottage Grove Avenue near 35th Street, directly across from Douglas's “Oakenwald” estate. The university offered college courses as well as programs in medicine and law. The newly formed Baptist Union Theological Seminary held its first classes there too, but moved to suburban Morgan Park in 1877 after a series of financial setbacks. The University of Chicago could not meet its growing debt, and was forced to close in the spring of 1886.