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In the fall of 1910, Dominican Sister Mary Eulalia Wehrle, local heiress and art enthusiast, presented the design of Wehrle Art Memorial to the Congregation of St. Mary of the Springs. Completed in 1912, the building originally housed a picture gallery, sculpture hall, library, rooftop garden, kiln, photographic darkroom, and studio space. The building was donated in memory of Sister Eulalia's parents, Joseph and Philomena Wehrle; two stained glass windows were commissioned in their honor and continue to decorate the north end of the gallery: one depicts St. Joseph holding the infant Christ in his arms; the other depicts St. Philomena. The motto, Per Artem ad Deum (To God through Art) is inscribed above the main south entrance.
In 1911, the Congregation received a charter from the State of Ohio to open a Catholic liberal arts college for women. The College of St. Mary of the Springs opened in 1924, and Wehrle--being the sole building on campus--was used for classes. After more campus buildings were constructed in the late 1920s, the number of classes held in Wehrle Art Memorial was reduced. However, the fine arts department gradually developed, especially in the 1950s under the leadership of Sister Eugene DeCleene. The 1960s brought significant growth, the name change of the institution to Ohio Dominican College, and the transition to a coeducational student body. The College later became a University in 2002.
The Wehrle building originally overlooked the approximate geographic center of the St. Mary of the Springs property. Although the orientation of the campus has since changed, Wehrle Hall continues to be an aesthetic and academic center of Ohio Dominican University. The subject-focus of the building emphasizes the importance of the liberal arts to the Dominican educational tradition. Besides accommodating courses in fine arts and communications, the gallery of Wehrle Hall is now also a venue for social gatherings and concerts, as well as art exhibits. The building also houses a computer lab equipped with graphic design software and state-of-the-art printers, designed to meet the growing technological needs of students.
Keifer, Sister Monica. Dominican Sisters St. Mary of the Springs: a History. Columbus, OH: Springs Press, 1972.