Founded in 1784 by John Harris Jr., through profits generated by his Ferry across the Susquehanna, the Harrisburg Academy erected this riverside campus in 1908. The school was officially incorporated through an Act of the State Legislature in 1809 and would become a preeminent private educational institution for boys within the region. The Academy was first located at the John Harris/Simon Cameron Mansion and later at the William Maclay Mansion and Academy annex building at Front and South Streets. Upon the sale of the Maclay property to the Bailey family, the Academy engaged in an aggressive plan to build a comprehensive resident campus that was properly equipped for college preparation. By 1942, declining enrollment resulting from the Great Depression and World War II required a reevaluation of the school's future. This campus was sold to the United States War Department that year for the establishment of an air intelligence school. In 1956, a series of educational consortia established the University Center at this campus offering continuing education courses to the local public, which continues to this day. In 1988, the State System of Higher Education, the oversight organization of Pennsylvania's 14 publicly owned universities, assumed the operation of the Center, subsequently purchased the site in 1991, and through a comprehensive campus-wide renovation project in 1993, relocated its operations to its new headquarters building which replaced the old Academy's Hunter Hall. The complex was renamed after Philadelphia philanthropist and founding System chairman, F. Eugene Dixon, Jr.
1940 view of Hunter Hall, the original structure on the Harrisburg Academy Campus later replaced by the State System of Higher Education Headquarters Building.
1932 aerial view of the Harrisburg Academy Campus.