When classes were first held at Elizabethtown College, the campus buildings were not yet ready and the six students took their lessons in the Heisey Building on the corner of South Market and Bainbridge streets. Today this building still stands, but it is home to a pizza shop whose primary customers are the 1500-plus students on the nearby college campus.
The original 13 acre site in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania was purchased by the Church of the Brethren after considering other locations in Columbia, Ephrata, Mountville, Norristown, and Pottstown. The college's campus was donated to the church by brothers Royer and Harvey Buch and Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Groff.
The first classroom building, Alpha Hall, opened in 1901 and in addition to the three classrooms, the structure held a dining room, kitchen, dormitory, chapel, library and administrative offices. Today Alpha Hall is used soley for the task of administering the college. The campus has grown from that initial gift of 13 acres to 185 acres in the past 100 years and the faculty has grown from three to more than 100 members.
The tennets of the Church of the Brethren are found in curious places across the campus. The church is a 'peace church' which teaches tolerance and pacifism which is one of the biggest reasons the college does not have an American football team. Another of the church's teachings is the importance of serving others. 'Educate for Service' has been the college's motto for more than 100 years and all graduating students are required to perform community service projects before receiving their degree. Only 5-6 percent of the college's students are members of the Church of the Brethren faith today.
Today, the college offers bachelor's degree programs in 50 fields, ranging from accounting to engineering or sociology-anthropology. Elizabethtown College's programs have received national recognition, earning a ranking of one of the best regional liberal arts colleges in the northeast by US News and World Report magazine for several years in a row.http://www.etown.edu