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The History of Seminary Hall - Northeastern State University

Seminary Hall, on the Tahlequah campus of Northeastern State University, is more than bricks, mortar, timbers and tile. It is the symbol of a university and of a great nation, it is the location of memories and the spring board for new ideas, and it is a reflection of at least six generations of students, teachers, and staff members who have gathered under the turrets and towers to teach, to study, to grow.


Seven years after the last detachment of Cherokees arrived in Indian Territory following their forced removal from their homelands, Principal Chief John Ross oversaw the passage of an act by the Cherokee Nation that created institutions for secondary education for young women and young men.

More about Principal Chief John Ross

Principal Chief John Ross


Financial difficulties and the disruption of the American Civil War forced the closing of both seminaries. Indian Territory experienced divisions and armed conflict as the opposing forces sometimes used the vacant Female Seminary for military purposes including a hospital for soldiers. By 1875, both seminaries had re-opened.

More about 1856-1875

vacant Female Seminary for military purposes

1887 / FIRE!

FIRE! On Easter Sunday, 1887, the Female Seminary burned to the ground. Determined students climbed into the cupola to strike the clapper to the bell by hand when no rope could be found, but to no avail. Only three original columns remain that can be seen at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

More about the 1887 Fire

the NSU Female Seminary burned to the ground in 1887


The Female Seminary was rebuilt in its new location and re-opened to much fanfare on May 7, 1889. The Cherokee Advocate newspaper reported: . . . Between 2,000-3,000 people were present and were counted, among whom were representatives of every district in the nation, and of every class of citizens. The procession was over a mile long.

More about 1889

female seminary rebuilt in 1889


From the day it opened in 1889, the true character of Seminary Hall has been defined by the people who study, teach and work there. While tastes and social mores have changed, youthful spirit and a yearning for life's experiences continue to echo in the hallways.

More about More Than Just a Building

women enjoying themselves at the seminary


Northeastern State University's historic Seminary Hall celebrated its 125th anniversary on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 outdoors on the south side of Seminary Hall on the Tahlequah campus.

More about Seminary Hall 125th Anniversary

Northeastern State University's historic Seminary Hall celebrated its 125th anniversary