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November 17, 2011

Namesakes - George E. Pierce, Pierce Hall, and Pierce House

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Portrait of George Edmond Pierce and Pierce Hall

George Edmond Pierce served as Western Reserve College’s second president, from 1834 to 1855. A graduate of Andover Theological Seminary and Yale University, Pierce was Pastor of a Congregational Church in Harwinton, Connecticut before coming west to Hudson, Ohio to accept the presidency of the eight-year old Western Reserve College. In an interesting instance of multi-tasking, Pierce served as Mayor of Hudson in 1851-52. During his 21-year tenure as Western Reserve College's president, enrollment doubled (from 58 to 120), the size of the faculty more than tripled (from 4 to 14), and tuition was raised from $20 to $30.

Nearly 30 years after Pierce resigned from WRC, the College moved from Hudson to Cleveland and changed its name to Adelbert College of Western Reserve University. In 1882 there were 4 buildings: the classroom and office building, the dormitory, the president’s house, and the privy. This 1885 map shows the Case School of Applied Science and Adelbert College campuses.

One hundred years after the beginning of his presidency, the Western Reserve University Trustees formally named the dormitory Pierce Hall. It had ceased being used as a dormitory some years earlier. In fact, Pierce Hall had a variety of names (Adelbert Hall, Adelbert Dorm, Pierce-Cutler Hall) and a variety of occupants (Schools of Law, Library Science, and Architecture, numerous fraternities and academic departments) and was pressed into service during both WWI and WWII as a residence for military trainees. Pierce Hall was razed in 1960 to make room for the Millis Science Center, now part of the Agnar Pytte Center for Science Education and Research.

But in 1964 President Pierce was again honored when one of the new men’s north side residences was named Pierce House. The citation reads, “For his self-sacrifice and devotion, his unyielding honesty, fidelity and untiring perseverance for the College.”

Posted by jmt3 at November 17, 2011 07:29 PM

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