Hodgson Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus. Built in 1927, it has served as the main academic building for decades and generations of Rabun Gap students have walked its halls. If walls could talk, it certainly would have some stories to tell.
Hodgson Hall is named for philanthropist and school benefactor Mr. E.R. “Prince” Hodgson of Athens, GA, whose portrait hangs in the main entrance. Mr. Hodgson was a major contributor to the first building, the Industrial School, in 1903 and donated his summer residence, the old Curtis School (now the Alumni Heritage Center), to Rabun Gap. As a way to honor the incredible impact his philanthropy and generosity had on the School, Hodgson Hall was named after him.
Hodgson Hall stands exactly where the original Industrial School building stood before it burned down in a fire in 1926. In 1927, Rabun Gap Industrial School merged with the Nacoochee Institute, and in less than a year, Hodgson Hall, Coit Dorm, and Bellingrath Dorm were completed. This was an incredible feat for that time period, especially considering the remote location of the School; supplies were likely brought in via train. Hodgson’s cornerstone dedication was held in November of 1927. The cornerstone is still displayed on the front of the building.
The gold cupola topping Hodgson Hall has become an iconic image for Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School. Hodgson Hall is the main building travelers see when on Highway 441.
Over the years, several additions were made to Hodgson Hall. In 1949, chimes were added to the bell tower and were later replaced with the “June Merck Johnston” carillon (bells) in 1966, a gift in memory of June Merck by Mrs. W. Knox Johnston. The Chapel and the library/auditorium were added as wings to the building in 1954.
Prior to the addition of these wings, exterior doors could be found at the end of the hallways and each featured a rounded portico with columns; the library was in the downstairs portion of the School, as was the auditorium/chapel. Once the wings were added, the vacated spaces were converted into classrooms.
Before the addition of the current library and the Morris Brown Science building, Hodgson Hall was the central hub for the School, housing classrooms, the library, auditorium/chapel, and administrative offices. Lockers were open wooden shelves along the hallways.
What is now a courtyard was once a parking and drop-off area. Students had to work to be warm in Hodgson Hall; all three of the buildings - Hodgson, Coit, and Bellingrath were heated by coal and it was the students’ responsibility to keep the furnace stoked and to clean it out in the warmer months.
Today, Hodgson Hall is the academic center for grades 9-12. The iconic building connects us to Rabun Gap’s rich history.