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Constructed in 1894-1895, Keller Hall was the second academic building on campus. (Faculty housing and a dining facility were constructed in the early 1890s; these support facilities have been razed.) Keller Hall originally housed the chapel/auditorium, a library, science classrooms, and a museum. These facilities were moved from the Main College Building (later named Smeltzer Hall). The chapel/auditorium was moved to Holland Hall in 1904; the library was moved to the present Wessels Library in 1954; and the science classrooms were relocated to the Science and Mathematics Building in 1969. The museum was closed in the early 1930s. After the science classes were moved, student organizations used Keller Hall up until the 1990s, at which time the building was vacated.
Keller Hall is currently vacant. In April 2002 the Board of Trustees approved a new Campus Master Plan that includes provisions for the complete renovation of Keller Hall. Through past fund-raising campaigns, the College has $200,000 on hand for the renovation. As part of the new Campus Master Plan, the Trustees have approved a loan of $1,000,000 for the new Keller Hall. Plans call for establishing a Center for Christian Vocation, moving the Department of Religion and Philosophy to the renovated unit and providing additional faculty office space.
The target date for the completion of the renovation of Keller Hall is in 2006 in conjunction with the College's 150th anniversary. Newberry College was chartered by the General Assembly of South Carolina on December 20, 1856.
Keller Hall was constructed in 1894-1895 partially from funds provided by Mrs. F.E. Keller of Haigler, SC, in memory of her son, J. Aiken Keller, a sophomore student at Newberry College when he died of typhoid fever in 1884. Keller Hall is the only building on campus named for a student. Keller Hall was placed in the Newberry College Historic District (along with Derrick, Holland, and Smeltzer Halls) by the National Register for Historic Places in 1976.
The first public service in Keller Hall was on October 1, 1895 for the funeral of President George W. Holland, the only President to die in office. His last words were, "God Bless Newberry College!"
The bell in the Keller Hall Tower has been a part of Newberry College's traditions. The Bell became known as the Victory Bell because it announced important events to the campus and community, such as athletics victories, particularly in football and basketball, and the end of World War I. In 1986 the Bell was removed from the tower for safety reasons. (It had not rung since the mid-1970s for fear the vibrations from ringing the bell could topple the tower.) When the bell was removed, it was placed on a trailer to revive the tradition of announcing victories in athletics.
The class of 2000 raised funds to build the Victory Bell Tower (Bldg. 34 on the campus map) to house the Victory Bell and to continue the long tradition of announcing victories and important events for the campus and the community.
Bedenbaugh, Benjamin A. A Centennial History of Newberry College, 1856-1956. Newberry, SC: Newberry College, 1956.
Henry, Gordon C. A History of Newberry College, 1856-1976. Newberry, SC: Newberry College, 1977.
Selected collections. Minutes of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Synod Minutes Collection, James R. Crumley Jr. Archives, Linenburg Memorial Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Columbia, SC.
Selected collections. Histories of the South Carolina Lutheran Church.. Congregation History Collection, James R. Crumley Archives, Linenburg Memorial Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Columbia, SC.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Newberry College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.