On September 17, 2010, the College opened a permanent facility in Washington, D.C. It serves as a hub for Hillsdale friends and alumni, and as the local campus for Hillsdale graduate students of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government and undergraduates in the College’s flagship Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program (WHIP).
Constructed in 1892, the building was originally three single-family townhouses, constructed of pressed brick in the style popular on Capitol Hill at the time. In the 1970s, the three houses were converted into one large office building, leaving the original Victorian exterior unchanged.
Businessman and philanthropist Allan P. Kirby, Jr., of Mendham, New Jersey, supplied the leadership gift that made possible the acquisition of this building. The president of Liberty Square and longtime former director of the Alleghany Corporation, his life achievements exemplify the promise of America. With deep gratitude for his generosity and in honor of his regard for civic education and the Constitution, Hillsdale College established the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.
The College acquired the building in 2008 and hired Rockford Construction of Michigan for the renovation work. Beginning in October 2009, the interior was fully reconstructed to suit the College’s academic purposes and create an appropriate aesthetic design.
The 16,000-square-foot building houses a large lecture hall for public lectures, educational seminars, and congressional briefings; reception parlors, classrooms, a beautiful Americanist and liberal arts reading library and study space for Hillsdale students, and offices for the Hillsdale in D.C. faculty and staff.
The Center has several historically significant artifacts on display:
- A rare first edition of The Federalist published to influence the ratification of the U.S. Constitution (1788)·
- The September 29, 1787 edition of The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, which features an early reprinting of the Constitution (1787).
- A handwritten letter from Joseph Warren (1775), Chairman of the Committee of Safety for Massachusetts, who was killed leading the Battle of Bunker Hill.
- A copy of the original photo of Frederick Douglass taken at Hillsdale College in 1863.
- The commission of Justice William Cushing to the United States Supreme Court by George Washington on September 27, 1789. The commission is signed by George Washington and John Jay, the first Supreme Court justice.
The Center also displays several works of art and photography throughout the building, including a nine-by-five-foot commissioned painting, The Signing of the American Constitution, by Hillsdale College Emeritus Professor of Art Sam Knecht.