Kin Takahashi came to Maryville College in 1888 after having spent two years in a Hopkins Academy in Massachusetts. At the end of his second year in the States, Kin, whose parents were Shintoist and Buddhist, converted to Christianity. At hearing of his conversion, Kin's parents cut off all financial support. Through another Hopkins student, Kin learned of Maryville College and the College's commitment to aid financially-strapped young students who wanted a college education. In Kin Takahashi's short time as an undergraduate, he started the first football team, organized self-help projects for financially strapped students and, most notably, spearheaded the building of Bartlett Hall.
According to By Faith Endowed, a history of Maryville College written by professors emeriti Dr. Arda Walker and Dr. Carolyn Blair, Kin wanted to show his appreciation for Maryville College before he graduated. Combining two of his passions - athletics and religion - Kin decided the campus needed a Y.M.C.A. and gymnasium building.
And he not only convinced the college administrators of this, he convinced the student body, Maryville town residents and potential donors in the North, as well.
During the summer of 1895, local farmers donated wood to heat the kilns, and student workers pressed more than 300,000 bricks for the building. Kin spent four months northern states, asking potential donors for financial support of the project. After raising $8,500 of the approximately $13,000 needed for the project, he returned home. In 1896, he laid the cornerstone of Bartlett Hall, which today still reads "Christ is our Cornerstone."
But five months before the building's dedication, Kin had to return to Japan. There, he worked as a Christian social worker and even held a position Japan's Y.M.C.A. organization. He died in 1902 at the age of 36.
Thanks to the Class of 2000, Kin Takahashi now has a room named in his honor in the renovated Bartlett Hall.
"They can't always pronounce his last name, but an impressive number of people here know that he's responsible for the building of Bartlett Hall," said Karen Beaty Eldridge, '94, the college's Director of News and Public Information and an alumna. "Without question, he is a legend in the history of Maryville College.
"For current students, Kin Takahashi is an example of how one student can make a tremendous difference on this campus," she added. "You add to that the facts that he came to Maryville with almost no money and a limited knowledge of the English language - then his contributions to the College are more impressive."
In 1998, the national alumni board of the Maryville College Alumni Association named a new young alumni award in memory of Kin Takahashi. Officially called the "Kin Takahashi Award for Young Alumni of Maryville College," the recognition is for "any alumnus/alumna who has, within 15 year of his/her graduation of Maryville College, lived a life characteristic of College legend Kin Takahashi, who, in his 36 years of living, worked tirelessly for the betterment of his alma mater, his church and his society."