Converse College opened on October 1, 1889 with a student body of 168 and 16 faculty members. The College operated as a "stock company" with the board of directors composed entirely of citizens of Spartanburg. Dexter Edgar Converse, a native of Vermont who had settled in Spartanburg before the American Civil War and had become a successful pioneer in the cotton mill industry, served as the head of the first board of directors. On January 2, 1892 fire destroyed the College's main building. The building was enlarged during its reconstruction. In 1896, the College was incorporated in South Carolina and a self-perpetuating board of trustees was named. In 1964, the College introduced graduate programs.