Faculty Guest Contribution: Why Is It Called Tenzer?

– Barb Sedlock (Defiance, OH)

Have you wondered about the history of Tenzer Hall?  In 1912 Herman B. Tenzer, who ran a local lumber company, became a Defiance College Trustee and member of the Executive Committee.  Faculty member (and later President) Albert Caris’s history of the College written about 1915 said that Tenzer and his wife were very supportive of the College, and wished to donate money to build a new building.

Construction began in 1917, but a severe setback occurred when DC’s President P.W. McReynolds and his wife were killed in a car-train accident at a railroad crossing in Indiana on October 3, 1917.

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Money donated to a memorial fund for McReynolds by the Ohio State Christian Association and others kept the project going forward. The architects designed Tenzer Hall to provide symmetry on campus, with the building resembling the men’s dormitory, Sisson Hall, on the opposite side of campus.  During construction, college life was disrupted by the presence of a unit of the Students’ Army Training Corps, preparing young men for service in World War I during 1917-18, some of whom were housed for a time on the third floor.

The formal opening of Tenzer Hall was held in June 1919, immediately following the Commencement ceremonies, according to the June 20, 1919 issue of the Collegian.  Student guides gave tours of the new building to visitors, ending at a reception with College dignitaries on the third floor.  The building contained laboratories for chemistry, biology, physics, and zoology, plus a darkroom for photography, a mechanical drawing room, and a plant conservatory.  Read the article from the June 7, 1919 Collegian describing the building as it was on opening day:  http://goo.gl/LALaaY

The Slocum Museum was housed in Tenzer’s third floor once the building was completed.  Dr. Charles E. Slocum was a local physician who donated his collection to the College.  It included archaeological, artifacts, and exhibits on zoology, geology, mineralogy, and historical material related to early U.S. history, such as Native American relics.  Click on this link to read an article from the November 15, 1911 Collegian describing Slocum and the collection:  http://goo.gl/FesReo

Despite it always being considered the science building on campus, many non-science other events took place in Tenzer over the years.  The Philomathean Literary Society had a meeting room in the building in 1926.   In 1932 and again in 1947, dances were held in Tenzer.  In 1946 after World War II, the campus Veterans’ Affairs office was located on the second floor, which provided testing and guidance for veterans.  In 1947, washing machines were installed in the basement for use of both faculty and students.  A load of laundry cost 25 cents to wash only, no dryers were available.   In 1956, a business machine room was established in Tenzer, with typewriters, calculators, adding machines, a comptometer, and duplicating and mimeograph machines.  In 1965, the mathematics department offices occupied the basement.

Carma J. Rowe Hall, connected to Tenzer, was dedicated in October 1987.  Renovations were made to Tenzer several times over the decades, the latest in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s.  The campus’ oldest building continues its original function, providing science classrooms.

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