"It is highly proper that our group of noble edifices should begin with the College of History. This science takes the first place...in the development of a great educational scheme—a modern, a complete, and an American University."
(Hurst's address at the laying of the cornerstone of the university's first building, the College of History, on October 21, 1896.)
John Fletcher Hurst (1834-1903) recognized the need for a strong national Methodist university while resident Methodist Bishop of Washington. He gathered support for the project and funds to purchase property on Loughborough Road as the site for The American University. While he primarily envisioned a Methodist university, Hurst also wanted to create a graduate institution to further the education of all, regardless of race, gender, or religious conviction. The Board of Trustees unanimously elected Bishop Hurst as the first Chancellor in 1891. In honor of his efforts to establish The American University, its first building was renamed for him on June 3, 1925.