Candler Alumnae Center
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Presented to the college in 1928 by the late Judge John Slaughter Candler of Atlanta in memory of his parents, Samuel and Martha Beall Candler, the Candler Alumnae Center (formerly the Candler Memorial Library) was designed by renowned American architect Phillip Shutze, with the assistance of librarian Katharine Payne Carnes. It is an outstanding example of Georgian architecture. Renovated in 1971, it currently houses the offices of Alumnae Affairs, Institutional Advancement, and Development.
The ground floor is filled with artifacts from Wesleyan's past. Many of these are on display in the Benson Room, named for Wesleyan's first graduate, Catherine Elizabeth Brewer (Benson) of the class of 1840. In the cases are early diplomas (Wesleyan's very first diplomas were in English, but soon a Latin version was introduced and has remained standard ever since), articles of clothing belonging to former students, and yearbooks going back to the turn of the century. On the back wall hangs a Manchu-dynasty silk robe presented to the college by Soong Ching-ling, one of the trio of famous sisters who attended Wesleyan in the early years of the century.
At the back of the building is located the Mural Room, so named for the two large historical murals on display there. The Athos Menaboni canvases are two of a suite that originally hung in the lobby of a downtown Macon bank; they were donated to Wesleyan when the bank's old building was demolished. The mural depicting Wesleyan shows the college's original Greek Revival building as it looked from the 1830s to the 1880s, before a Victorian facade and extensions were added (a painting hanging in the entry to the Candler Building shows the building after the additions). This first building, later known as the "Conservatory," was located atop a hill overlooking the city of Macon, now the site of the main Macon Post Office; it burned in 1963 after standing vacant for a decade, and was demolished.
Upstairs, the former library reading room was transformed into a ballroom/banquet room now known as the Oval Hall. It has been the site of alumnae reunions, inaugural balls, concerts and luncheons. In 1998, the Alumnae Association raised money to completely restore the hall, its ornate moldings, and its parquet floor to their original beauty. Heavy drapes were removed from the windows to allow full natural light. The large portrait between the columns on the back wall depicts Martha Beall Candler, the mother of Judge Candler; his father is represented in a bust in one of the side niches and his own likeness is represented in the other.
Just outside the small foyer is a plaque honoring Katharine Payne Carnes, Class of 1913, librarian of the college from 1919 to 1959. The college hosts an endowed lectureship in memory of Miss Carnes that in past years has brought to the college speakers such as authors Jane Smiley, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Virginia Hamilton, flutist Eugenia Zuckerman, journalist Deborah Norville, and NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar.
Akers, Samuel L. The First Hundred Years of Wesleyan College, 1836-1936. Macon, GA: Wesleyan College, 1976.
Miller, Margaret. "The Founding and Early History of Wesleyan College." M. A. thesis, University of Georgia, 1935.
Quillian, William Fletcher. A New Day for Historic Wesleyan. Nashville, TN: Printed for Wesleyan College, Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, [1928?].
Rees, Frances. "A History of Wesleyan Female College from 1836 to 1874." M. A. thesis, Emory University, 1935.
Thomas, Kenneth H., Bamby Ray, and Lynn Speno. Wesleyan College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2004.