Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Cramblet Hall

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Institution Name: Bethany College (WV)
Original/Historic Place Name: Carnegie Library
Location on Campus: Campus Dr.
Date(s) of Construction:
1906construction began; April 1906
1908construction complete; June 9, 1908
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Other (Glossary)
Significance: education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone and poured concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: slate (originally); asphalt dimensional shingle (currently)
 
Function:
1908-1960library
1924-1960museum
1961-present (2006)administration
 

Narrative:
Cramblet Hall, originally Carnegie Library, is a three-story brick building with Berea stone trim. The brown-pressed brick was made on the grounds, and face brick and slate were hauled from Wellsburg, West Virginia, on the newly completed Wellsburg, Bethany, and Washington Railway Company (the trolley). The building is 95 feet long and 45 feet wide and contains 11,750 square feet.

In 1905, Andrew Carnegie, the great steel magnate and philanthropist, offered to give Bethany College $20,000 for a new library if the college could find matching funds. Construction began in April 1906 and was announced as complete by the Board of Trustees on June 8, 1908. There is no record of the architect, but President T. E. Cramblet announced to the Board of Trustees on June 8, 1908 that the college had saved about $5,000 by building the library itself. In the back of the building is an 18-foot circular extension originally designed to form part of the stack area. The second floor is entered at the same level as Phillips Hall. In the center of the second floor, there was originally a charge desk, and to the right were book stacks and a reading room. To the left of the second floor were a reading room, a music listening area, and glass cases containing the private library of Alexander Campbell. The first floor was used as a hall for social programs. On the third floor, there were four rooms. Originally, two of these were reading rooms, one was used for book stacks, and one was a workroom. Later, the rooms on the third floor were used for periodicals, a classroom, a room for the Adelphian Literary Society, and a museum. Robert Richardson's library was in the workroom on the third floor.

This library marked a significant period of change in that it provided reference material and a transition from assignments and study from a single text to the use of general literature on a subject. However, not only did space needs for the library grow, but the building was suffering from structural problems. By 1927-1928, the Board of Trustees reported the need for testing the floors of the library for strength, and in 1952-1953, the library was reported to be the most poorly constructed building on campus. Green lumber had been used, causing warping throughout the building; the roof was sagging under too much weight and not enough support; the foundation was badly eaten by termites; and the weight of the books was causing the center of the building to sag and was pulling the staircase away from the wall. Wiring was inadequate, there was no fire protection, and the building was considered to be a danger to the Alexander Campbell Library and Disciples of Christ restoration materials.

After T. W. Phillips Memorial Library was built in 1960, the Carnegie Library was converted into administrative office space and rededicated as Cramblet Hall on June 3, 1961. The following offices were housed there: offices of president, dean of faculty, development, alumni, registrar, dean of students, admissions, public relations, church relations, and business. There was also a room for the board of trustees, a conference room, a mailroom, a dark room, and a duplicating room. Administrative offices in this building now include those of the registrar, student services, and the business office.
 

References:

Carney, Brent. Bethany College. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Woolery, William Kirk. Bethany Years: The Story of Old Bethany from Her Founding Years through a Century of Trial and Triumph. Huntington, WV: Standard Printing and Publishing, 1941.

 

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Last update: November 2006