Elon University Alumni Association

History of the Martin Alumni Center building

By Katie Nash

Ever wonder about the history of the white house on the corner of Haggard Avenue and O’Kelly Avenue on Elon’s campus? It’s one of the few older houses still standing on Elon’s campus, and to trace its history we have to travel back in time to 1965. Records show that in October 1965, a gift agreement was set-up between Algier Lloyd Rich, his wife Minnie Allene Patton Rich (Class of 1911), and Elon College in which the Rich family gave their home and land (which included a barn!) to the College, while still able to live in their home and maintain lifetime rights. The house was built between 1938-40 and upon the death of Mr. Rich in 1986 and Mrs. Rich in 1987 the house became officially part of the Elon College campus.

The Board of Trustees report from March 1988 states that the Rich house was undergoing renovation to become the new Student Health Center, slated to open in the fall of 1988. For some years prior to 1988, the Student Health Center was located in the Long Student Center (now the Long Building). In the fall of 1988, the new and expanded health center officially opened for business. According to a Sept. 22, 1988 Pendulum article, the new health center “… features a large waiting room, private examination rooms, increased storage space, and observation beds.” The health center was named the R.N. Ellington Health Center, honoring Robert N. Ellington. Ellington served as Elon College’s physician since 1984.

After the new R.N. Ellington Health and Counseling Center was constructed and officially dedicated on March 13, 2001, the Rich’s house then became the home of the Office of Financial Planning. The Ellington Health Center moved again in the summer of 2013 to a state-of-the-art facility on South Campus. The Financial Planning office remained in the house until early 2013, when the Martin Alumni Center (MAC) opened in August 2013. The MAC was named for Chris ’78 P’13 and Nicolette Martin P’13 and is the home of a vibrant, centralized gathering space for Elon Alumni.

About Minnie and Algier Rich

Minnie Allene Patton Rich was born on Feb. 20, 1891 in Randolph County, N.C. Her father was the Rev. John Webster Patton and her mother was Minnie Vance Cummings. Her stepmother was Donie Priscilla Rich. Minnie Allene Patton Rich graduated from Elon College in 1911 with a degree in piano. She was also a member of one of the original literary societies on campus, the Psiphelian literary society. She passed away in August of 1987 at age 96 and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

Algier Lloyd Rich was born in 1883 and grew up on a farm in Wayne County, N.C. He married Minnie Allene Patton on Dec. 28, 1916 and they were married for 70 years. The couple came to live in Elon in 1918 and he worked for Burlington Industries until he retired at age 70. Mr. Rich passed away on Nov. 28, 1986 at the age of 103. Both Mr. and Mrs. Rich were long time members of the Elon Community Church.

This account first appeared Aug. 27, 2013 in Under the Oaks, a blog by the  Elon Belk Library Archives and Special Collections. To view more images of the Rich House, please visit the blog.