Building a Legacy: Weathering the war and completing the plan

Part four of a series on the iconic architecture of campus by Alyssa (Jackson ’19) Bootsma

As America entered World War II in 1941, progress halted on the master plan to relocate the heart of Grove City College to upper campus and the College did its part to assist in the war effort.

The Navy Training Program was established through a federal contract shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the first group of sailors arrived on campus on March 2, 1942. The program, first and foremost, was the College’s great contribution to the war effort, training servicemen in technology that was essential in this decade’s war. But the program also helped the College survive through the drastic drop in enrollment caused by the war.

The existing buildings of campus were used in a new way during this time: to house servicemen while they completed three months of technological training. They lived mostly in Memorial Hall as their barracks but some in Ketler as the numbers grew and classes took place in the Rockwell Hall of Science. Taught by civilian professors, classes included a select radio training program that owed a debt to the College’s early strides in radio communication, dating back to the 1920s.

In 1943, the first detachment of aviation students arrived on campus for a new pre-flight training school. “The arrival of the Air Corps was the third specialized group of service trainees on the campus,” according to the April 24, 1944 issue of the Collegian, commemorating the last section of aviation students leaving the campus.

“By the time the war was over, more than 4,000 servicemen ‘attended’ Grove City College through the military programs,” College archivist Hilary (Lewis ’09) Walczak said in the spring 2015 edition of the GeDUNK Magazine.

In 1946, the first addition to the college after the war was adding the East and West Transepts to Harbison Chapel, a fitting gesture to a building that even the visiting servicemen made good use of during the war.

The College returned somewhat to normal in 1947 for the first time since the war began. “This was the era of the Enlargement Campaign which was started in 1947 and pushed for the second phase of the Olmsted plan,” Walczak said.

The work would finally resume in full force during the 1950s, ushering in a new phase of the original Frederick Law Olmstead plan for a quad. That push included improvements to original buildings and new construction including Hopeman Residence Hall, tWest Residence Hall, Henry Buhl Library and Alumni Hall.

The completion of Calderwood Hall in 1958 was the final move completing President Weir C. Ketler’s master plan to center the College on the upper campus.

Hopeman Hall, originally called South Hall, is a men’s residence hall today which was dedicated on the same day as the women’s West Hall on June 9, 1950. Construction began on Hopeman Hall in 1948 and took two years to complete. Originally, the building housed the men’s infirmary until Zerbe Health Center was built in 1969. It was funded primarily by the Pew Foundation and the College’s Board of Trustees through the Enlargement Campaign. Bertram C. Hopeman, the namesake of the men’s hall, served on the Board for 18 years from 1941-1958.

West Hall was annexed to the Mary Anderson Pew Residence Hall in 1950 and originally served as the women’s infirmary. Today, it is home to female college students.

Alumni Hall, as the name denotes, was funded by generous Grove City College alumni. Constructed as a multi-purpose building in 1953, it housed the gym, guest rooms intended for visiting alumni (but now student residences), a bookstore and the famous GeDunk snack bar. The name was coined by WWII and Korean War veterans, whose dining areas on warships were termed gedunks. Designed by New Castle, PA architect W.G. Eckles, it was also part of the second phase of the Olmstead plan.

In 1954, the Henry Buhl Library was built. Named for Henry Buhl Jr. who served on the Board of Trustees from 1898 till his death in 1927, the library was funded by the Buhl Foundation and the patronage of Board Chairman J. Howard Pew. Buhl established the foundation to benefit the people of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Likewise, the Pew heritage hailed from Philadelphia with a similar goal. The Library was a great opportunity to share knowledge with students and the public and to boost the academic integrity of the College.

The capstone addition of Calderwood Hall in 1958 brought a change in architects to Grove City College.  Alfred Panepinto designed Calderwood and he was the official architect of J. Howard Pew’s Sun Oil Company. The building was named in honor of Alva J. Calderwood, an 1896 graduate of the College, professor for 53 years and College Dean for 35 years. Calderwood Hall (now replaced with the Hall of Arts and Letters) marked the completion of the second phase of the Olmstead plan.

Much of the 1950s construction boom was made possible with the support of generous alumni and friends who firmly believe and continue to uphold the College’s mission, vision and values established in 1876. The completion of this phase of campus construction brought much of College life to Upper Campus, fulfilling Ketler’s plan for a cohesive and beautiful physical plant. These campus buildings remain a testament to those who dedicated much of their lives for the cause of the faithful, excellent education that Grove City College has and always will provide.

Read the Building a Legacy Series

Part 1: Campus buildings tell College’s story

Part 2: Creating a campus in the community

Part 3: Growth in the midst of the Depression

Part 4: Weathering the war and completing the plan

Part 5: The Surge of the 60s, 70s and 80s

Part 6: The 21st century


Building a Legacy: Weathering the war and completing the plan

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