Freewill Baptist Minister Oren B. Cheney founded the Maine State Seminary as a private high school in 1855. Soon thereafter he added a “collegiate department” and received a college charter nine years later. The expanded school was named for Benjamin Bates, a benefactor from Boston and Lewiston.
The first major buildings, Parker and Hathorn Halls, were set in a broad lawn surrounded by rural farms. The library and stone chapel anchored the formal quadrangle that evolved from the original lawn. By 1914 the college had added eleven buildings, and college president George Chase engaged landscape architect and city planner John Nolen to create the first master plan, which guided development for many years.
Nolen’s plan responded to the changed environment in Lewiston, industrialized after the Civil War, by enclosing the campus with new buildings to give a sense of academic seclusion. He suggested separating academic, residential, and recreational areas and preserving Hathorn Hall (listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970) as the campus center. He designed quadrangles that reinforced the axial layout of the city streets and campus roads, considered views only within the campus, and planned for a park-like setting of trees, lawn, and recreation areas. Further development of the 109-acre campus, including the creation of Lake Andrews, occurred from the 1940s to 1980s.