In 1872 the Southern Christian Conference of the Christian Church, (later United Church of Christ) decided to open a college. They wanted to expand the existing Graham College but were unable to acquire the needed land there. The trustees were able to purchase land in 1888 at different location. The new site for the campus was selected near the North Carolina Railroad freight stop in Alamance County known as Mill Point, about five miles west of Burlington.
The trustees purchased 48 acres of land from W. H. and E. A. Trollinger as well as several adjoining plots for a total of 87 acres. Since the land was covered with old oak trees the college was named Elon for the Hebrew word meaning oak. Elon College opened on September 2, 1890, as a four-year liberal arts college for men and women.
Twenty-five acres were reserved for the college north of the railroad tracks and the remainder was subdivided for sale to help raise money for the college. The town grew quickly and was incorporated in 1893 as Elon College. In January 1923, the main campus building was destroyed by fire. During the reconstruction, which took about three years, the campus was expanded with five new buildings to accommodate the growing college. This quad shown above now forms the core of the old campus.
Elon College added graduate degree programs in the 1980s. Those have continued to grow, with Physical Therapy added in 1996 Law in 2006. To better reflect the school’s diverse programs and growing student body, the college changed its name to Elon University in 2000 and its mascot from Fighting Christians to Phoenix. With that change, the name of the town was changed from Elon College to Elon.
“Long Live Elon”