Oberlin Then and Now: Finney Tent

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Historic drawing of Finney Tent  Present day view of Tappan Square

Then: Finney Tent, 1835, Now: Tappan Square, 1930, Olmsted Brothers


The Big Tent was a gift to Professor Charles G. Finney from friends in New York City, to furnish the means of holding protracted meetings through the region, in places where no suitable houses for such meetings could be found. It was one hundred feet in diameter, and had a seating capacity of three thousand. The Tent was used for the Commencement exercises in the year 1835, and for the same purpose for eight years thereafter, until 1843. During one summer it was used for Sabbath services, the students erecting it on Saturday afternoons and removing it Monday mornings. For Commencement purposes it was erected on the Campus east of Tappan Hall. The tent finally passed into the possession of the Anti-Slavery Society.

Source: From the 1936 Alumni Catalogue and a set of building cards created by the College Secretary's office, both located at the Oberlin College Archives

Illustration courtesy of Oberlin College Archives