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People Behind the Buildings: Part 2

Part 1 of “People Behind the Buildings” was published in December 2016 describing the origins of some of the buildings on campus and whom they are named after. We learned about Earnest E. Angell, Fred J. Shields, Floyd W. Nease, and R. Wayne Gardner. This second part of “The People Behind the Buildings” will expand your knowledge about Eastern Nazarene College’s history even further, and show how some amazing women contributed to ENC today.

Bertha Munro

Dean Bertha Munro
Dean Bertha Munro. (From James R. Cameron’s “The First Fifty Years” Nazarene Publishing House, 1968)
Munro Hall
Munro Hall. (Photo taken by Canaan Hess)

In 1926, ENC saw a growth in student population of 190 students in an eight-year period. While there were a lot of buildings available for the men, the same could not be said for the women. The college used a single building on West Elm Avenue for the women’s dorms, but after the student increase, President Floyd W. Nease was able to get the trustees to approve a four-story dormitory for women. This building was eventually named after Dean Bertha Munro in 1934.

Dean Munro was the first dean of Eastern Nazarene College. Throughout the first 38 years of ENC’s existence, there were six different presidents. There was one dean during that entire time, and it was Bertha Munro. While she was known for her accomplishments during her time as a professor and a dean, she was widely known as an approachable adviser and friend. In James R. Cameron’s book of ENC, The First Fifty Years, Munro is a described as scholarly, compassionate, brilliant, and kind. She embodied the Christian virtues of a woman, and many people drew such inspiration from her. Both men and women patterned their lives based on Munro’s way of living, and this eventually became a symbol named The Munro Image. President R. Wayne Gardner wrote of Dean Munro, saying, “Her life and character point unerringly to her Master whom she so faithfully serves.”

Edith F. Cove

Edith F. Cove (From book, Cameron, James R. “The First Fifty Years” Nazarene Publishing House, 1968)
Edith F. Cove (From James R. Cameron’s “The First Fifty Years” Nazarene Publishing House, 1968)
Edith F. Cove Fine Arts Center (Photo taken by Canaan Hess)
Edith F. Cove Fine Arts Center (Photo taken by Canaan Hess)

In the early 1980s, the Department of Music grew in numbers, and there were many construction projects proposed to meet the needs of that growth. One of the buildings that was approved in 1982-1983 was the Edith F. Cove Fine Arts Center. They named the building after Cove because of her impact on the campus as a professor and also for her passion for music.

In 1928, Edith Cove joined the ENC faculty and became a piano instructor by 1930. In the Fine Arts Department, she was one of the three faculty members who worked on a commission-based system instead of a salary-based system. Cove was generous in many different ways throughout her time at ENC. In James R Cameron’s book, A Spirit Makes a Difference, Cove gave faculty children free piano lessons during The Great Depression. She also was in charge of purchasing the first organ on campus and refused to be paid for being the organist for the college church. She gave a yearly scholarship to an aspiring student of music for 30 years. She was also treasurer of a PCI (Pentecostal Collegiate Institute) Circle at her church, and the PCI group contributed to the school by donating money. In addition, Cove and the group papered and painted six rooms during an entire summer. Cove was a giver and never asked for anything in return.

The auditorium in the Edith F. Cove Fine Arts is named the O’Connell Auditorium after Phelma Shaffer O’Connell, who took six music courses with Edith F. Cove. Her sons were benefactors to the college and donated $350,000 to the construction of the auditorium.

Alice Spangenberg

Spangenberg Hall. (Photo taken by Canaan Hess)
Alice Spangenberg. (From James R. Cameron’s “The First Fifty Years” Nazarene Publishing House, 1968)
Spangenberg Hall
Spangenberg Hall. (photo by Canaan Hess)

In the 1960s, the Board of Trustees were looking to expand the female dormitories to another building. Their plans were to make another building, but make it large enough so that it could house more women. The architect explained the plans for the new four-story building that could house up to 120 women. A large lounge, a clinic, and a recreational area would fit inside this building as well. The trustees approved the plan, and they voted to name the building after Alice Spangenberg.

Alice was an extraordinary student and professor at ENC. Among the 500 students on campus in her senior year, she graduated with one of the highest grade point averages. She was a member of the first graduating class since ENC’s relocation to Quincy in 1919.  In 1924, Alice joined the ENC faculty and worked in the English Department. During her time as a professor, she impacted her students’ lives in a significant way. During World War II, she wrote to many of her students serving in the military. She also wrote a biographical book about Shiro Kano, the first Japanese student who attended ENC. In this book, she writes about Kano’s coming-of-faith story during his young adulthood, and how he shared the Gospel during the war. Alice Spangenberg ended up teaching at ENC for over 45 years and became an icon with her knowledge, her writings, and her kindness.

Esther Williamson

Esther Williamson
Esther Williamson (Photo from James R. Cameron’s “The First Fifty Years” Nazarene Publishing House, 1968)
Williamson Hall: Photo taken by Canaan Hess on iPhone 7 Plus
Williamson Hall. (Photo taken by Canaan Hess)

In 1967, President Mann requested to have a special meeting with the trustees, and Mann sought out their approval to add a wing onto Spangenburg Hall. With a total cost of $394,000, the new wing was built and it housed an additional 110 women. This added wing that conjoined with Spangenberg was officially named Williamson Hall. While people might think it was named after ENC president Dr. Gideon B. Williamson, it was actually named after his sister and music professor Esther Williamson.

Esther Williamson’s story of how she ended up at ENC and the legacy she left behind is quite remarkable. Before teaching at ENC, she was teaching at a Bible school in Cleveland for nine years. She also directed choral unions and gave private lessons in voice. In 1934, her brother Gideon talked about her coming to ENC to teach. She eventually met up with President Gardner and Reverend E.G. Anderson at a District Assembly, and she told them that she was considering teaching here. James R. Cameron’s First Fifty Years states that Esther did not receive a letter from the officials of the college. She mailed them a letter and they did not reply to that either. One day, she told her son that she did not sense any leading of the Lord to go there. She went back to her studio and started praying. After some time of praying, Esther looked out her window and saw President Gardner walking on the campgrounds. She left the building and started asking President Gardner a lot of questions about ENC, and he had all the answers she was looking for. She agreed on the spot to be a faculty member, and started working at ENC that fall.

Throughout her time at ENC, Esther Williamson had such a unique gift in conducting music. Not only did she have the technical skill to train students vocally, but she had an unparalleled ability to inspire the students that she conducted. Esther was a major influence on the students at the college and she challenged them every day to live out their Christian faith, through music and other outlets.

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