Harford history

December 04, 2005

1795: Fire destroys Cokesbury College

Church leaders the Rev. Thomas Coke and Bishop Francis Asbury, seeing that the Baltimore area held "the greatest concentration of Methodists in the nation," decided to found a sectarian college. They chose Abingdon for the site, a thriving town on a stage line to Philadelphia (the largest city in America at the time). Coke and Asbury laid the cornerstone of the building in 1785. The Georgian edifice was three stories and larger than anything else in the county. The college had a diverse and multitalented faculty and attracted the sons of the leaders of society; however, arguments about teaching and about finances undermined the institution. Debts mounted, and on Dec. 4, 1795, when the college burned to the ground in a suspected arson, no one attempted to rebuild.

[An Architectural History of Harford County by Christopher Weeks, and Harford County Directory 1953. Research by Harford County Public Library.]

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