The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The Pioneer Namesake

Photo by Tori Schuller

As of Sept. 2023, Linfield University houses more than 60 buildings on almost 190 acres. Buildings on the campus include the library, countless dorms and apartment buildings, and multiple academic halls.

However, the building that has continued to stand out for years is Pioneer Hall. Today, Pioneer Hall is used as a residence hall and an academic building. However, 165 years ago, the easily recognizable-building housed the entire school.

The origins of Pioneer Hall are traced way back to the days of the pioneer Baptists, in 1848. Originally, Linfield University was founded by members of the Christian Church, who were eager to have a school in McMinnville, Ore. After a few years and financial issues, it was sold to the Baptists who bought the land in 1857, and named it the Baptist College at McMinnville.

By 1879, the school was named McMinnville University, and floor plans had been made for the first new building, Pioneer Hall. The Cozine family donated 60 acres to the school, and the cornerstone of Pioneer Hall was placed where their cabin previously stood.

By the summer of 1883, the construction on Pioneer Hall was finished. When the school was first established, Pioneer Hall housed the dorms, dining hall as well as all the classrooms for the college.

By the 1920s, McMinnville College was growing substantially and gained more publicity each day. However, in 1922 a generous donation made by Frances Eleanor Ross Linfield changed the future of the school. The donation was in honor of her late husband, Rev. George Fisher Linfield. While the money served as a memorial to her husband, Linfield also donated it in order to promote Christian education at McMinnville College.

Part of the donation included a large amount of land, which would be valued at about 5 million dollars today. Linfield was the Dean of Women and a member of the Board of Directors for the school until her death in 1940. After the donation, the school was renamed Linfield College, in honor of the Rev. and Mrs. Linfield.

Just a few years later, the infamous building was renamed to Pioneer Hall in the spring of 1929. The hall was named after the pioneers of this school, who sacrificed much of their lives and time to establish Linfield University.

Pioneer Hall remains a landmark in McMinnville, with many locals recognizing the infamous bell tower in any picture. However, the building is unknown to most people who reside outside of Yamhill county.

“I am not super familiar with Pioneer Hall. I think it was the first building on campus, but until coming here I was not aware of the history behind it,” said Faythe Loyd, a sophomore here at Linfield. Loyd is from Spokane Washington, which is about a six-hour drive from McMinnville, Ore.

Out of all the recognizable features in Pioneer Hall, the most famous would be the bell tower. The top of the tower can be seen over the Oak Grove, where graduation and important ceremonies are held every year. Ringing at every half an hour, it makes its presence well-known to any resident at Linfield. However, the bell tower remains non-accessible for any student, because of an ill-fated prank that supposedly happened years ago.

Ghosts are common at most schools, a founder of the school or maybe an old teacher might appear to some students. However, the ghost at Linfield remains one of a kind. While no student could pinpoint when it happened, almost every resident at Linfield could tell you what happened.

Originally meant to be a simple prank, a few students decided to bring a cow up to the top of the bell tower of Pioneer Hall one day. After climbing up at least five large flights of stairs, they were able to get the cow to the top of the building. While cows are able to climb up stairs, the students were not aware of an unfortunate fact; they are not able to climb down. Today, the cow supposedly haunts the top floors of Pioneer Hall, adding another story to the history of Pioneer Hall.

Standing for over 140 years now, Pioneer Hall is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. While it may not house the entire school anymore, Pioneer Hall still continues to be a strong symbol for Linfield University, for the rest of time.

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About the Contributor
Tori Schuller
Tori Schuller, News Editor
Tori is a junior political science and journalism double major. She is from Whidbey Island, Washington, and is on the golf team here at Linfield. In her free time, she loves to hike, paddle board, and go to concerts. She hopes to improve her journalism and writing skills from this experience on the Linfield Review. After graduating, she hopes to travel the world and spread the stories of every person she meets.

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    Raymond L. Sifdol (Senior)Oct 24, 2023 at 10:33 am

    Good article about Linfield History.

    With that said, Linfield was making the transition from a Christian College to a secular institution of higher education during the time I attended it from 1957-1961.

    On that note, it’s time to change the name of Linfield from a Baptist Minister’s name to a Linfield President who managed to turn Linfield into that successful secular University. That would be President Davis. So why not Davis University?

    I’m not jesting when I propose such a change. President Davis has done far more than donate money to establish a college. In fact, he changed the image of the college to reflect real world values.

    Think about this! Renaming Linfield as Davis University is a doable thing.

    The late Rev. Linfield is long gone, but President Davis lives.