Collins House is the oldest college building still on its original foundation. Built in 1845 as a home for E&H's first president, Charles Collins (1838-52), the house carries his name. A native New Englander, Collins was an intellectually gifted graduate of Wesleyan University who became president of Emory & Henry at the age of 25 and quickly showed a penchant for discipline and academic rigor. During much of this century, Collins House was designated as the official residence for the academic dean of Emory & Henry. In 1965, it became a residence hall.
Collins House has much in common with the Emily Williams and J. Stewart French houses. All three were constructed during a seven-year period early in the life of the college and, because of similarities in style, they were likely built to the specifications of the same master builder. Each house has walls about one foot thick and, at the time of construction, all three had the same type of wooden porch now seen at Collins.