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Marble Hall Historical Marker Project Earns State Award

Work by Ruth Brindle and Students Lauded by Ohio Local History Alliance

November 1, 2013

Ruth Brindle is pictured speaking during the Ohio Historical Marker unveiling ceremony in April. She stressed the major role played by students in the successful process of Wilmington College receiving a marker for Marble Hall, the dormitory built by students.Indeed, students of today joined nearly two-dozen alumni and former faculty and staff that were involved with the genesis of Marble Hall for the marker unveiling ceremony in April.

Ruth Brindle is pictured speaking during the Ohio Historical Marker unveiling ceremony in April. She stressed the major role played by students in the successful process of Wilmington College receiving a marker for Marble Hall, the dormitory built by students.Indeed, students of today joined nearly two-dozen alumni and former faculty and staff that were involved with the genesis of Marble Hall for the marker unveiling ceremony in April.

Wilmington College’s story for the ages — students building Marble Hall more than six decades ago — received an accolade for the multi-faceted program that brought an Ohio Historical Marker to campus last spring.

The Ohio Local History Alliance’s Outstanding Achievement Award was given to the College this fall in recognition of the student-focused process that involved a history class and student internship, and ultimately brought together alumni and others involved with building the dormitory in the late 1940s.

Ruth Brindle, curator of the Meriam R. Hare Quaker, accepted the award on behalf of the College at the Alliance’s awards ceremony in October.

Marble Hall — built largely by voluntary student labor — is a nationally acclaimed example of voluntary service and self-help. The end of World War II and the subsequent G.I. Bill resulted in an influx of male students, which created an urgent need for a new residence hall. Some 65 years ago, WC’s president, Samuel D. Marble, rallied the campus to build it.

Brindle explained how the College’s second Ohio Historical Marker came to be.

Her sophomore Historical Research Methods class in 2012 conducted research for the marker project application, which included drafting questions for participants based upon the Ohio Historical Marker criteria.

“The students then researched everything from the names of individuals that worked on the building to the broader context of the impact of the G.I. Bill on colleges and universities in the United States after World War II,” she said.

(LEFT) President Jim Reynolds and Rebecca Marble Bonnell react to the historical marker's unveiling by the Ohio Historical Society's Michael Rapp at last April's event.

Kyle Pitzer, a 2012 graduate in history, undertook an internship project that culminated with drafting the narrative for the Marble Hall story for the application.

Brindle described his work as a “daunting task,” as he had to verify all the original sources, follow-up on unanswered questions posed by the class and clarify a number of research points.

“Once that was done, Kyle had to turn the facts and figures into a compelling story — and be concise enough to stay within the one page limit,” she said. “It was Kyle’s narrative that convinced the Ohio Historical Society that Marble Hall was worthy of an Ohio Historical Marker and that we should receive a partial grant to help fund the marker.

“He did a fabulous job.”

Pitzer, who was recognized for his work at last April’s marker unveiling ceremony, is in his second year at Wright State University working on a master’s degree in public history.

Brindle said the Marble Hall story reflects the Religious Society of Friends’ work testimony and cited the building’s namesake, the late WC president, as transforming the College through his belief in work and self-help.

Marble had the idea of, “reconstructing the campus by starting with ourselves — faculty and students — and to build the much-needed dormitory with our own hands.”

Brindle said the Ohio Local History Alliance’s Advocacy Committee, which served as judges for the award, was “particularly impressed” with how the College was able to use the marker “to connect WC’s past to its present and future” through the focus on service.

“We were able to connect the Marble Hall story to the national story, and we were able to bring the broader community together at the dedication of the marker,” she said.