Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Original painting portrays Reinhardt history

Have you noticed one of my favorite pieces of the art we have on display in the library? It's on the second floor, hanging above the desk of Frieda Blanton (Reinhardt's first graduate--more about her later). The painting is on loan from the collection of Waleska resident Roy A. Pritchard, in memory of Lucy Hufstetler Pritchard (Reinhardt College class of '41) and in honor of the artist, Linda J. Peters. The painting depicts the second Adminstration Building, circa 1940.

Here's a little history, courtesy of technical services librarian and Reinhardt College historian Joel Langford:

"The first permanent college building opened in 1885 and burned on November 28,1911.
School leaders and students were devastated and unsure as to whether Reinhardt would remain open. But soon a temporary building was opened, and classes resumed. Plans were made to construct a new administration/classroom building."

(If you take a look at the cornerstone of our current administration building, you will see it says the college was established in 1883 by A.M. Reinhardt and rebuilt in 1911. I don't know as much about Reinhardt history as Joel does, but I do like to walk around campus. Back to Mr. Langford now...)

"Mary Reinhardt Sharp, widow of college co-founder J.J.A. Sharp, sister of co-founder A.M. Reinhardt and mother of Reinhardt President R.C. Sharp, gave her 17 acre home place to the college for it to rebuild. A fund drive was begun aimed at building a larger and better college building. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on May 14, 1912, and the building was completed by that fall. The building was constructed of wood with a stucco exterior and beaver-board interior. The ground floor housed eight classrooms, offices, the library and music rooms. The basement had three classrooms and a laundry. The top floor was an auditorium that also served as the college chapel. The building had a slate roof which weighed forty tons, thus requiring reenforcement of the roof beams. An air heating system was installed, but did not work very well. It was replaced with steam radiators.

The building was named Mary Stuart Witham Hall, in honor of the mother of Board of Trustees member William S. Witham. Mr. Witham served as Chairman of the Building Committee that had raised funds for the building. Witham Hall had a water system installed, and in 1916 became electrically lighted when Reinhardt built an electric plant on campus. By the late 1940s, Witham Hall was in disrepair, although it was still the main college building. A new fund raising effort was begun and in 1950 the cornerstone was laid for a new brick building. This building opened on Thanksgiving Day 1951 and is now known as the Burgess Administration Building. Witham Hall was torn down and became just a memory to all the students who had attended Reinhardt during its almost forty year lifespan."

Now, thanks to Ms. Peters' work, Witham Hall once again has a place on the Reinhardt campus. Stop by and have a look!

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