Marker No: 13713
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Geographic: 31.066662, -97.464134
Location: University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus, Vann Circle Drive, Belton
Marker Text: This memorial, an important symbol for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, has historic ties to the earliest days of the school in Belton. Founded in 1845 at Independence, Texas, as the female department of Baylor University, the school moved here in 1886 as Baylor Female College under the leadership of president John Hill Luther. The first building at this site was a large, multi-story limestone structure with ornate Victorian detailing, tall columns, squared towers and rounded arches. The structure provided space for classrooms, offices, a chapel and a dormitory. Named for president Luther in 1919, it became the centerpiece of the growing campus.
An early morning fire on Saturday, January 26, 1929, raced through the historic building and, despite the efforts of several fire fighting companies, it was soon a total loss. Although more than 200 female students lived at this site at the time, no one was injured. For two decades, the charred ruins of Luther Hall remained, serving as a backdrop for commencements, musical presentations, classes and, beginning in 1940, an annual Easter pageant.
Efforts to utilize the ruins as part of a memorial began in 1944, with Luther family members contributing funds. Work began in 1954 on a plan to incorporate the building's original limestone blocks and preserve the architectural lines of its prominent arches. Other elements include a bell tower and commemorative stone wall. Since its dedication in May 1955, Luther Memorial has served as an important reminder of the university's rich traditions and its historic commitment to quality Christian education. (2004)