Pfleiderer at 100: Still serving humanities

Nov 13, 2012

Dr. Doug CollarThe Heidelberg community went on a little time travel adventure Monday, journeying back 100 years to the dedication ceremony of the venerable Pfleiderer Hall, the university’s original library. The fun-filled “Pfleiderer Follies” was prepared and presented by a group of Honors students in honor of Founders Day, which annually commemorates the founding of the university in November 1850.

Dr. Doug Collar, who worked with students Hannah Long-Higgins, Erin Crenshaw and Becca Dickinson to produce the event, explained that the city of Tiffin was once blessed with two Carnegie-endowed libraries. Pfleiderer housed Heidelberg’s first library for 60 years; the other was located in downtown Tiffin and served as the local library until the construction of the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. Both structures – although they have different purposes – are still standing, Collar said.

For the past 40 years, Pfleiderer has been home to the humanities at Heidelberg and the former downtown location now serves as the county juvenile court.

Dressed in period costume, the students brought the dedication to life. Dickinson presented a brief history of Pfleiderer, including Andrew Carnegie’s $25,000 gift to fund its construction. “The new facility may have been better,” she said, “but the old one has never been forgotten. … It was an extraordinary vehicle of imagination.”

To re-enact the 1912 dedication, Zachary Myers stepped into the role of then-President Charles E. Miller. He spoke about Carnegie as “a citizen of the world” whose philanthropy, vision and investment was the driving force behind the creation of 2,500 libraries across the countries.

Hannah and ZachryHeidelberg’s “seemingly unreachable project” expanded the library’s capacity exponentially. “This building is not a luxury but meets one of the long-felt necessities,” Myers – or Miller – said.

The crowd was treated to a guest appearance by Andrew Carnegie himself, portrayed by history professor Dr. David Hogan. He spoke of the pursuit of learning as both a responsibility and a joy, and thanked Heidelberg students – “the bright faces of tomorrow.”

Senior John Huenemann provided musical selections to conclude the program.

Another surprise, HU English majors and faculty honored Dr. Ruth Wahlstrom on the occasion of her upcoming retirement.

Earlier in the day, the university community celebrated Founders Day by enjoying a display comprised by archivists Dr. Bob and Dorothy Berg. Birthday cake capped off the event.