The College shares its site with the General Assembly Hall, the main meeting venue of the Church of Scotland. Over its history Edinburgh has been one of the world’s leading centres of Reformed theology, and has been home to distinguished theologians such as HR Mackintosh, John Baillie, TF Torrance and John McIntyre, and influential biblical scholars and expositors such as James S. Stewart and James Barr.
The site on the Mound, in the centre of Edinburgh, was purchased in 1844 for £10,000. The celebrated Edinburgh Architect, William Henry Playfair, designed the buildings to be an imposing edifice in a prominent part of the capital, and an expression of the confidence of the Free Church. The plan was to provide accommodation for a full university.
The cost of the building was raised largely from donations by Free Church members, particularly the Free Church congregation in the Old Town, in return for including a church (now New College Library) among the new buildings. The College’s distinguished first principal, Thomas Chalmers laid the building’s foundation stone on 3 June 1846, and it opened to professors and students in 1850.
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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