Thiel College

 Thiel College



Thiel College owes its existence remotely to a bequest for benevolent purposes made in 1885 by Mr. A. L. Thiel, of Pittsburgh, Penn. The sum, $5, 500, was placed in the hands of Rev. W. A. Passavant, to be used for some benevolent purpose connected with the cause of Christianity. It was accepted, and the following year was invested in some lands and buildings which had been devoted to a water cure at Phillipsburg, Beaver Co., Penn. An institution of learning, known as “Thiel Hall,” was in operation at Phillipsburg for several years under the direction of Revs. E. T. Giese, H. E. Jacobs, W. Kopps and others. In October, 1869, Mr. Thiel offered to the Pittsburgh Synod of the Lutheran Church, held at Greensburg, Westmoreland County, the entire property known as “Thiel Hall” on two very liberal conditions, which were intended to secure for the denomination an institution of learning of a high order. The gift was accepted, and accordingly put under church control.

In the early part of 1870 the people of Greenville made to the board of trustees a very flattering offer as an inducement to have the enlarged institution located in their midst. The proposition included the gift of seven acres of land as a site, and a bonus of $20,000. The offer was accepted, and the institution was transferred from Phillipsburg to Greenville, the opening exercises at the latter place occurring in the academy building on the 1st of September, 1871. Mr. Thiel, prior to his death, which occurred on February 16, 1870, had made some additional bequests to the institution. The college grounds were afterward increased by seven acres, donated by Dr. D. B. Packard; one acre by Samuel Ridgeway, and the balance by purchase from Mr. Ridgeway.

The first of the college, buildings, known as “Greenville Hall,” out of compliment to the liberality of the citizens of Greenville, was erected in 1872-74. The cornerstone of the structure was laid August 15, 1872, with suitable ceremonies, appropriate addresses being made by A. D. Gillespie, Esq., Hon. James Sheakley, Rev. G. A. Wenzel, Hon. M. C. Trout and Hon. Samuel Griffith. The regular address was made by Rev. W. A. Passavant, of Pittsburgh, who gave the history of the institution. The structure, made of brick, three stories in height, 53x76, and containing thirty-three rooms, was erected by T. E. Heilman, of Greenville, for $22,649.79, of which amount the citizens of Greenville paid $14,307. The architects were Griese & Weile, of Cleveland, Ohio. The building committee consisted of Revs. H. W. Roth and J. B. Fox, and Dr. G. D. Kughler, A. D. Gillespie and Dr. D. B. Packard. The dedicatory services were held on June 25, 1874, addresses being delivered by Rev. J. G. Pfuhl and Prof. H. E. Jacobs. The services were under the direction of Prof. H. W. Roth, Prof. H. E. Jacobs and Rev. W. A. Passavant. Until the completion of “Greenville Hall,” in June, 1874, the old academy building, and afterward three rooms in the union school building, were used.

Memorial Hall was commenced in 1885, the laying of the corner-stone taking place on June 25, of that year, Rev. J. A. Kunkleman, D. D., performing the ceremony. It was completed and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies November 10, 1880. It is a substantial three-story brick structure, and was erected at a total cost of about $8,000. This building contains the chapel and the recitation and society halls, and is quite a convenient addition to the original college building.

Thiel College has a good equipment and a fine library, and affords the regular college course. The usual attendance is over 100 students. Rev. H. W. Roth, at first connected with the institution in the capacity of an instructor, was chosen president in August, 1875, and filled that position with commendable credit until the close of 1887, when he resigned, and removed to Chicago, Ill. The board has recently chosen Rev. William A. Beates as his successor. The other members of the faculty are Rev. David McKee, professor of mathematics; Rev. Josiah R. Titsel, professor of Greek, and Rev. Herman Gilbert, professor ameritus of German. Prof. McKee has been connected with the college since its inception, Prof. Gilbert since 1872, and Prof. Titsel since June, 1874. The following instructors are also connected with the college: Rev. H. K. Shanor, A. M., principal of the academic department; S. H. Miller, A. M., instructor in natural sciences; Rev. William Rehrig, instructor in the German language, and Miss Julia Ackerman, musical instructor. The duties of the Latin chair are distributed among the members of the faculty. Thiel College is a great advantage to Mercer County, but more especially to Greenville, as it furnishes her ambitious youth an opportunity of obtaining a first-class collegiate course without leaving home. Its most enterprising citizens fully appreciate this blessing, and while proud of its past history, are also sanguine of the future prosperity of this local home of learning.

History of Mercer County, 1888, pages 418-420



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