Fisher Hall, located north and east of the Miami
Campus, was dedicated on September 3, 1856 with much pomp as the Oxford Female College,
finest college building in the West. Land for the College was donated by Ebenezer
Lane, a well-to-do "friend and patron of education and a man of enlarged and
catholic spirit of Christian benevolence." He gave 44 acres of land on the northeast
edge of Oxford, plus a substantial endowment. Construction costs were estimated at
$40,000, but the steam heating and gas lighting brought the cost to $60,000. Musical
furnishings, stables, and other outbuilding added another $20,000. Subsequent improvements,
furniture, and a library brought the total coast to $100,000.
Designed by James K. Wilson, charter member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the building was 155 feet across the front and 171'6"" long, excluding porches. There were 100 student rooms, accommodations for the family of the President, the teachers, the stewards, and the domestics. There was a dining hall, recitation rooms. society halls, and a chapel seating 800. Circulars of the time emphasized ventilation, pure water, the "bathing rooms fitted with appliances for warm and cold bathing," gas lighting, and steam heating. Initially, the school was operated on a luxurious scale, with "servants in bottons and livery."
Financial problems existed from the first, only half the original cost of the building being paid or subscribed for. As the College was sponsored by the Presbyterian Church, it was assumed that the Church would be a financial mainstay. In fact, it was not. In 1867, in an attempt to preserve the College, President Robert D. Morris combined it with the Oxford Female Institute, the College building to serve as a boarding institution, the Institute as a day school. Shortly after, the old Institute building was converted into the Oxford Hotel, but would eventually become the new home of the Oxford Female College in 1883. After Morris' death in 1882, the old College building was sold to the Oxford Retreat Company for $45,000 and used as a sanitarium by Dr. Cook until the middle 1920s.
Miami purchased the building in 1925 and remodeled it as a freshman men's residence hall. In 1927. it was named for Judge Elam Fisher, Class of 1870, an Eaton attorney and businessman, who served as trustee from 1887-1923. It served as a men's residence hall from 1926-41, a Naval training school from 1941-44, and a women's residence hall in 1944-45. Afterward, it again served as a men's residence hall until 1958. In that year the upper floors were declared unsafe and abandoned and the first floor housed the Miami University Theatre. When the Center for Performing Arts was completed in 1968, the building was relegated to a storage repository. It was razed in 1979 after several efforts to save it failed.
"Brief Summary of Fisher Hall History" [typescript]
"Fisher Hall.''[Historic American Buildings Survey Inventory Form]
Flinterman, Miami Buildings, Past and Present , 1966, LD3241.M534 F54x
Flower, Olive. History of the Oxford College for Women. Hamilton, O.: Miami University Alumni Association, 1949
McDiffett, Kenneth E. "Fisher Hall: Information Sheet." [typescript]
"Miami University Buildings Razed, Sold, Moved, . . ."
Elam Fisher graduated from Miami in 1870 and went on to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1891 to 1894 and as Judge of the Ohio Second Judicial District Court of Common Pleas from 1895-1923. He also served as both an Oxford College and Miami Trustee. Fisher died in Eaton, Ohio, shortly after his retirement from the Miami Board on May 10, 1923.
Alumni News Letter, August 1923
of the Men and Women For Whom Miami Buildings are Named, 1983, LD3241.M534