Spring Hill College was founded by the first bishop of Mobile, Michael Portier. After purchasing a site for the College on a hill near Mobile, Bishop Portier went to France to find teachers and funds for the new college. Portier recruited two priests and four seminarians from France to staff the school. A friend of Portier, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons, was a major benefactor to the fledgling College, donating his philosophical and theological library and various works of art. Pauline Jaricot, founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, also donated within three years 38,000 francs, an enormous sum in those days . The bishop himself taught theology to the ecclesiastical students, who numbered six the first year. Upon his return he rented a hotel next to the college grounds and started the first semester on May 1, 1830, with an enrollment of thirty students, making Spring Hill the oldest institution of higher education in Alabama. On July 4 of the same year the bishop laid the cornerstone of the first permanent building. It stood on the site of the present Administration Building and opened for classes in November 1831. Spring Hill thus takes its place among the oldest colleges in the South. It is the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. The original main building, built in 1831. In 1836 the governor of Alabama, Clement C. Clay, signed a legislative act which chartered the College and gave it "full power to grant or confer such degree or degrees in the arts and sciences, or in any art or science as are usually granted or conferred by other seminaries of learning in the United States." This power was used in the following year, 1837, when four graduates received their degrees. The first two presidents of the College were called away to be bishops, one to Dubuque, Iowa (Bishop Mathias Loras), the other to Vincennes, Indiana (Bishop John Stephen Bazin), and the third, Father Mauvernay, died after a brief term of office. Bishop Portier then found it necessary to transfer the College, first to the French Fathers of Mercy, and next to the Society of Jesus and Mary, both of whom lacked teaching and administrative experience. He then persuaded the Fathers of the Lyonnais Province of the Society of Jesus to take possession of the College. The new regime was inaugurated with Father Francis Gautrelet, S.J., as president in September 1847. Since that time the institution has continued under Jesuit direction. Many boys were sent to Spring Hill during the American Civil War as they neared the draft age. However, there was considerable unrest among students who wanted to be part of the war effort. The college did eventually form two military companies. Some of Spring Hill's Jesuit Fathers became chaplains for the Confederacy. A recruiter tried to conscript all forty of the Jesuit brothers at the college into the Confederate Army. However, the College President Gautrelet dispatched an urgent message to the assistant secretary of war in Richmond, who granted a temporary reprieve of the brothers' conscription. The second main building, now the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. Administration Center, built in 1869. During the Reconstruction era the College recruited students from among the sons of Central American and Cuban leaders. Following student complaints that Spanish was challenging the dominance of English on the campus, the Jesuits organized a Spanishï¿½American league. In 1869 a fire destroyed the main building and required the removal of students and faculty to St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Bishop John Quinlan and other benefactors assisted in rebuilding the College, which reopened at Spring Hill before the year's end. As the enrollment increased, Quinlan Hall, St. Joseph's Chapel, the Thomas Byrne Memorial Library, and Mobile Hall were erected. In 1935, the high school, which had been a unit distinct from the College since 1923, was discontinued. In the space vacated by the high school, the Jesuit House of Studies was opened in 1937, and the Scholasticate of the Sacred Heart opened on a site adjoining the College a few years later. The Spring Hill football team played its first game in 1900, but was disbanded in 1941. St. Joseph Chapel, built in 1910. After World War II, a great influx of veterans taxed the facilities of the College, requiring the erection of a number of temporary buildings on the campus. At the request of Archbishop Thomas Joseph Toolen of Mobile, the College became co-educational in 1952. African American students were accepted into all departments of the College for the first time in 1954, before desegregation was mandated by the United States government. Mrs. Fannie E. Motley was the first black graduate from the institution in 1956. Spring Hill College was a leading institution in Alabama to press for racial equality, which received praise from civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who mentions Spring Hill in his 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail," citing the College as one of the first Southern schools to integrate. Spring Hill also received hostility and threats by those opposing integration as exemplified by the KKK incident at the College. On the night of January 21, 1957, a dozen or more darkened cars eased down the main avenue of the college. Several members of the KKK attempted to set up a kerosene-soaked cross outside Mobile Hall, a dormitory. The Klan made a tactical blunder, however, in visiting the campus during finals week. Most of the white, male residents were still awake, studying for exams, and several heard the hammering. Once alerted, students streamed from both ends of the building carrying whatever items were handyï¿½golf clubs, tennis rackets, bricks, a softball batï¿½and put the panicked Klansmen to flight. To save face, the KKK returned the next night and succeeded in burning a cross at the gate of the College before students reacted. The following day, however, a group of studentsï¿½male and femaleï¿½hanged a Klansman in effigy at the College gate, with a sign reading, "KKKers ARE CHICKEN." The school formerly competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC).clarification needed Following Hurricane Katrina's widespread destruction along the central Gulf Coast in 2005, Spring Hill accepted 117 students, the majority of them from Loyola University in New Orleans, a brother Jesuit institution, for the remainder of the year.
Paul Morphy 1855 - aged 18 at graduation. Considered to have been the strongest chess master of his time, as well as the first recorded chess prodigy in history. In 1957, a centennial monument dedicated to Morphy's 1857 victory in the First American Chess Conference was erected behind Mobile Hall. It was presented by the Log Cabin National Chess Affiliation (now defunct). Samuel D. McEnery,clarification needed Governor of Louisiana; Louisiana Supreme Court; United States Senator from Louisiana. Miller Reese Hutchison 1895. Noted inventor of the first electric hearing aid and worked at the Edison Laboratory. Stephen Mallory, Secretary of the Navy for the Confederate States of America. Dominic Mauncy, 3rd Bishop of Mobile. Arthur C. Watson was a Natchitoches, Louisiana, lawyer, civic leader, politician, and philanthropist who succeeded despite the loss of the use of both legs from polio. He graduated from Spring Hill College in 1930 Joe Langan 1951 - Alabama state senator and mayor of Mobile, Alabama, and is credited with having maintained the peace during the racial turmoil of the 1960s, when many other major cities in the Southeast were attracting national attention because of their racism. Stephen Karopczyc 1965 - U.S. Army First Lietenant awarded the Medal of Honor Patrick J. Geary, medieval historian and professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies Jeremiah Denton Admiral, USN. One of the American POWs during the Vietnam War He is perhaps best known for a TV interview he gave during his time as a prisoner of war, in which he blinked the word "torture" in morse code during what was supposed to be a North-Vietnamese propaganda piece on the "humane" treatment of detainees. Alexis Herman, U.S. Secretary of Labor. John T. Schuessler Ret. Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Wendy's International, Inc.. Patricia Krenwinkel was a student at the college for less than a semester. She eventually dropped out and joined "The Family", the followers of the murderer Charles Manson. Nick Bollettieri 1953 tennis coach. Blake Stein 2005. baseball pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League. Jim Hendry, Executive with the New York Yankees. Former baseball player at Spring Hill. Colman McCarthy, leading peace educator, founder of the Center for Teaching Peace, and former columnist at The Washington Post. Todd Schuler, 1999, Maryland State Delegate (D). T. Semmes Walmsley, mayor of New Orleans. Dana Veth, professional Bahamian soccer player