Cumberland University Memorial Hall- One Cumberland Square
Cumberland University’s first campus was located on the southeast corner of College Street and East Spring Street. Construction began in 1842 and the finished building was 110 feet long and 40 feet wide. This was expanded with two spacious wings, a colonnade, and cupola in 1859 making it the largest college edifice in the state. This building was burned September 4, 1864, by Confederate forces.
The cornerstone for Cumberland University’s Memorial Hall was laid in 1892 near the center of a fifty-five acre campus on the southwestern border of Lebanon. Construction continued until September 1896 when classes were first held in the new structure. The College of Arts occupied the first floor and the Theological School met on the second. Several years passed before the third floor was finished.
Few institutions have a heritage as rich as Cumberland’s. Past a lumni include:
• United States Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945
• James Lafayette Bomar, president of Rotary International
• Two Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court
• More than eighty congressmen
• Thirteen governors
• Three ambassadors and
• Scores of local, state and federal judges.
Memorial Hall is still the centerpiece of Cumberland’s campus. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Cumberland University was selected as the Director Headquarters for Tennessee Maneuvers of the Second Army in September 1942. The previous year the War Department had conducted large scale war games around Camp Forrest near Tullahoma. Middle Tennessee was chosen because of the similarity of the terrain to that of Western Europe. Lebanon’s close proximity to railroads and major highways was a deciding factor in choosing the town as the headquarters’ site. The maneuvers trained 800,000 soldiers in a twenty-one county area from 1942 to 1944. A memorial to the men of the maneuvers is located on the campus in front of the Heydel Fine Arts Center.