Honors Program


The Bethel


The Seamen’s Bethel is home to the Honors Program. It is across the street from the Mitchell Center, in front of the Student Center and between Alumni hall and Art Exhibition Hall. Our Honor students use this building for the essential studying and meetings, but also for social functions, hanging out, watching movies, and many other entertaining activities. The Bethel is available 24/7 for all of our Honor student’s needs.    However, before the Bethel was home to the Honors Program it had its own struggles, difficulties, and triumphs.    

The Bethel has a fascinating past and is one of three historical buildings on campus.  Before the building’s construction in downtown Mobile in 1860, there was the creation of the American Seaman’s Friend Society of Mobile in the early 1820’s due to the growing concern for seaman moral and physical health.  In 1837, the Unitarians of the area opened the new bethel on the edge of Government Street which closed not long after, due to financial difficulties.  With financial provisions from both legislature and a number of protestant churches in the area, a new Bethel Church was devoted to the cause in 1845.

Soon after, a British ship was renovated and converted into the new Bethel and hospital in 1853.  This, however, did not last long because in 1860 the Bethel sank in a storm.  This incident led to the construction of yet another Bethel this same year at 75 Church Street.  This structure is the very one that sits on the University’s campus today.

After the civil war, the building continued on as it was originally intended, until 1923 when the structure was sold and relocated to St. Joseph Street where it was used for union meetings until the close of the Second World War.  After being condemned in 1960, The University of South Alabama took this Bethel and rebuilt it on campus in 1968 where, when the school opened, it was meant to be used as a theatre-in-the-round for USA’s drama department



In addition to its long complex history, the building that now sits on campus is thought to be haunted by the ghost of a sea captain and a young child in the basement, both of whom had passed within the building at some point in time. If you are lucky enough to be invited to the Bethel you might be able to meet them!