Article originally published In Columbia Tribune on September 9, 1954
Hatcher Hall, Which Stephens Is Razing, Has long Been Identified With Columbia History and Early-Day Social Life of City
Hatcher hall at Stephens college is relinquishing its site to a college chapel but Hatcher hall and its origin is worthy of attention before it vanishes completely from the memories of Columbians.
Named for a Columbia Baptist minister, G.W. Hatcher, Hatcher Hall had its earliest beginning as the private, spacious home of Robert Thomas Prewitt , a son of Moss Prewitt.
Hatcher hall was built in 1871, the year Moss Prewitt died, by Robert T. Prewitt and was one of the most beautiful of Columbia's homes. Standing on the corner of Price Avenue and Broadway, the Prewitt home, distinguished by its high ceilings and magnificent stairway, has witnessed the days of fine carriages and happy family reunions.
The Columbia landmark was purchased by Stephens College in 1920 and was first used as a library. Later after some remodeling, it became the home economics building. Finally in 1935 it was converted into a dormitory housing 53 students by the addition of an extensive wing. Since then over 1,000 girls have lived there during their stay at Stephens.
Closely allied with the early history of Stephens college is Moss Prewitt and his family, some descendants of whom still reside in Columbia as well as other sections of Missouri. Prewitt, born in Kentucky on February 20, 1799, was one of the original three trustees of the college back in 1849. The impetus of Columbia's women's college began in Kentucky, for that state was the main source of cultural influence upon Central Missouri at that time.
On May 26, 1856, Moss Prewitt was one of seven curators elected and then when the board met and organized Prewitt was chosen as treasurer. Along with others through the years, Moss Prewitt contributed generous sums of money to the college, and often loaned money during the times when fiancees were precarious. College officials recall that Moss Prewitt advocated many sound ideas and polices which greatly aided the early development of the college and which can still be traced back to this enterprising southerner.
Prewitt married Miss Nancy johnston of Kentucky and the couple had 10 children, seven of them daughters. In 1858 the College graduated only two women, one being Miss Mattie Prewitt. In fact, the Prewitt family for a number of years was an almost unfailing source of students to the earlier academy and later to the Baptist Female college as Stephens was formerly known. All seven of the Prewitt girls attended the college.
It was in 1821 that Prewitt came to Columbia. He was always closely associated with finance. The first bank started in Boone county was the banking house of Prewitt and Price. A hatter and merchant Prewitt began by taking care of money for his customers in his store. At first he took the money, placed it in an envelope, wrote the owner's name on it, and put it in a safe. Later he decided to put money in his safe and write the amount on an account book. Thus he began banking in 1857. in 1867 this bank received its charter and was the first national bank established West of the Mississippi river. In 1871 the bank acquired the name of Boone County National bank as it is still known today. One of Prewitt's daughters married R.B. Price, who had become associated with him in the bank. a descendant, R.B. Price is president of the bank today.
Robert T. Prewitt, who was born on July 25, 1845, and married Miss Sallie Walton Rubey in 1869, had three daughters, one of whom died as a child. Rubey Prewitt Evans and Lucile Prewitt Dawes McComb both attend Baptist Female college.
Although many Prewitts once lived in Columbia, there are only a few here today. One is Mrs. Donna Reid, great granddaughter of Robert T. Prewitt and a grand-daughter of Rubey Prewitt Evans. Mrs. Reid's mother, Mrs. C. T. Mitchell, resides in Jefferson city. Another descendant living in Columbia is R. C. Prewitt, a great, great grandson of Moss Prewitt. Still another is Miss Florence Willis of Columbia.
Robert T. Prewitt received a master's degree from the university at the age of 20. He engaged in the mercantile business as a partner in his father's firm. He was a zealous worker for the cause of education and temperance, serving for many years on the board of trustees of Stephens college and as a deacon in the Baptist church.
The Prewitt name is honored in stained glass at the First Baptist church of Columbia. This window, whose flamboyant Gothic lines point upward to the triple symbol of the three-in-one unity of the church, was erected to the memory of Robert T. Prewitt, who died May 25, 1880. His wife and three of his sisters, Mrs. Martha Prewitt Bates, Mrs. Sarah Prewitt Anderson, and Mrs. Clara Prewitt Buckner, gave the window at the time the church was built in 1891.
Moss Prewitt, Robert T. Prewitt, their children, and their home have all been closely connected with Stephens college down through the years. Stephens college is proud of its associations with this old Southern family which contributed generously to the history of the college as well as Columbia and the state of Missouri.
Reproduced with permission from The Columbia Tribune