Remembering Our Heritage
by Alumni Office staff
February 25, 2021
in Intro to Covenant
For more than 60 years, Covenant has faithfully pursued its mission of exploring and expressing the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things.
Founded in 1955 in Pasadena, CA, the college needed to expand after just one year. Several professors helped Covenant move to St. Louis, MO, into a building donated by Catholic sisters. As we increased in size over the next eight years, we outgrew the St. Louis campus we shared with Covenant Theological Seminary.
A Castle in the Clouds
Built in 1928, The Lookout Mountain Hotel (featuring the South’s largest ballroom and 200 guest rooms) came up for sale when Covenant once again needed more space. The once-posh “Castle in the Clouds” seemed an ideal location for the college, and Covenant purchased and moved into the hotel in 1964. Since then, we have significantly developed the campus and cultivated important ties with the Chattanooga community.
An Enduring Symbol
Serving as a symbol of Covenant’s history and purpose, the purple-flowered thistle was borrowed from Scotland’s national emblem. According to Scottish legend, the thistle played a vital role in the Scots’ victory at the Battle of Largs in 1262. A barefoot invader unwittingly stepped on a thistle, howled in pain, and notified Scottish defenders of the attack from King Harco’s men. The Scots won the battle and credited the thistle.
Six presidents have led Covenant since the college's founding in 1955.
- Dr. Robert Rayburn (1955-1965)
- Dr. Marion Barnes (1965-1978)
- Dr. Martin Essenburg (1978-1987)
- Dr. Frank Brock (1987-2002)
- Dr. Niel Nielson (2002-2012)
- Dr. Derek Halvorson (2012-present)
Timeline of Renovations and Additional Buildings:
- Barnes Gym was built in 1972 and named in honor of Covenant's second president, Dr. Marion D. Barnes.
- Kresge Memorial Library was built in 1972. It was named in honor of Stanley Kresge’s mother. Stanley was a supporter of the college and a leading contributor to the building.
- Carter Hall is named after Paul Carter, a Chattanooga businessman who donated five hundred acres of mountain land to the college in the early seventies. The first renovation project began in 1978.
- Dora Maclellan Brown Memorial Chapel & Fine Arts Building was completed in 1978. The white cross on the front of the building is approximately 67 feet high and is made of Tennessee marble. It represents to the community the Christ-centered vision of the college.
- Sanderson Hall opened in 1984 and was named in honor of Dr. John W. Sanderson, one of Covenant’s earliest faculty members and a longtime friend and supporter of the college.
- Founders Hall is named after Max Belz, Rudolph Schmidt, and Dr. Robert Rayburn. Belz Hall was the first, built in 1972, with Schmidt Hall following in 1990, and lastly Rayburn Hall, built in 1993.
- The C.G. and Nancy Mills Science Building, also known as Mills, is named after the major contributor to the building, and it opened in 1996.
- Maclellan Hall opened in 1998 and is named in honor of the Maclellan Foundation. The Rymer Wing of the building was built in 2000. It is named after Ann Caudle Rymer and her son, S. Bradford Rymer, Jr. who made contributions to the building project.
- Ashe Activity Center was completed in 2000. It is a state-of-the-art fitness center for use by athletes, students, and the local community.
- Andreas Hall opened in 2007 and is named after Lowell Andreas, who made financial contributions to the college and the BUILD campaign.
- Brock Hall was built in 2008 and is named after Dr. Frank Brock, the fourth president of the college.
- In 2008, the extensive renovations on Kresge Memorial Library were completed.
- Lucas Art Workshop was completed in 2016 and is named in honor of David and Linda Lucas. The wood detailing recalls the old wood siding of the Art Barn; the Cor-Ten steel on the exterior and interior (gallery) echoes the art of Richard Serra; and the rock outside alludes to the work of contemporary artist Robert Smithson.
- The Carter Hall restoration project to return it back to its original architecture and address external issues with the historical building began in 2015 and was completed in 2017.