Findlay College was a joint venture of the Churches of God, General Conference, and the Village of Findlay. It was chartered on January 28, 1882, to provide a liberal arts education within a Christian context for all — regardless of race or sex. Old Main was constructed between 1883 and 1886 at a cost of $51,662.95. It was 171 by 107 feet, one of the largest college buildings in the state, and the only one heated by natural gas. The cornerstone was laid on May 25, 1884.
Classes began on September 1, 1886. There were 170 students and 10 faculty members the first year. The first commencement was held in June, 1889, with two students, Flora Kimmel and J. P. Shelley receiving degrees. The first president of the College was John Roland Harris Latchaw, 1884 - 1893. Charles Trout Fox was the first dean, 1886 - 1929. Winebrenner Theological Seminary, until 1961 known as Winebrenner Graduate School of Divinity, was established in 1942.