Calkins Hall

Calkins Hall

Calkins Hall was originally built to house the Department of Music and served that purpose from its completion in 1917 until the new music hall was completed in 1971.  It was renovated for administrative offices in 1972-73 and today, is used accordingly.

Wartime conditions with shortages of labor and materials delayed the completion of the building and, by 1917, had increased the final cost several thousand dollars to $31,237.50.

Although the building was smaller than originally planned and the studios diminutive in size, it was the “jewel” of the campus.  Built of brick in the Williamsburg style, it had “unusual charm and permanence from the (hand) carved stone entrance to the lovely concert room upstairs.”  The whole interior was decorated with details of musical instruments.  The concert hall was finished in ivory and old gold and the walls richly decorated with plasterwork.  The dark blue stage curtain gave an accent of color.

Evan Terry was the architect for the renovation in 1972-73; Lewis Mayson, an authority on old buildings, who had supervised the work at King House, was the contractor and general supervisor.  Under their direction, Calkins was completely renovated.  Almost everything inside, from the roof to the carpet and drapes was moved, replaced, refinished or redecorated.  The most obvious change was on the second floor where suites of offices replaced the concert hall.  The rooms are still beautiful but more functional than before.

Housing the offices of the President it was the first building on campus wholly given to administration.  The Board of Trustees Conference Room, where the Board meets quarterly, is also located in the building.

Charles Rendell Calkins

Calkins Hall is named for the man who directed the Music Department from 1916 until his death in Boston on August 28, 1921, just a few days before the opening of the fall term.

Mr. Calkins was a New Englander by both birth and training.  He lived in Melrose Highlands, Massachusetts and studied Faelton Pianoforte School where he graduated in 1908.

His first teaching assignment was in the South, although it is not clear how he got from Boston to Evergreen, Alabama.  In Evergreen he was in charge of music instrumentation at the Second District Agricultural School where he put many of his ideas in to practice; he organized an orchestra, a brass band for the boys and a community choral society.  Furthermore, he was an organist and choir director at the Baptist church where, according to the pastor, he was an exceptionally fine musician and teacher.

After leaving Alabama, he spent the next to years in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he was soloist with the largest choral group and gave concerts in conjunction with Saint Paul Symphony.

He had many opportunities to use his musical skills in Canada but the severe climate there made him long for the mild weather of Alabama.  So when President Palmer offered him a position in Montevallo, he readily accepted, but with the clear understanding that he would reorganize the department.  The school bulletins of the next two or three years show that he enlarged course offerings and organized music groups, both on campus and in the community.

As time went on, he became one of the most influential factors in standardizing school music study in Alabama and other states where he was a frequent consultant.

At the first meeting of the 1921-1922 session, the faculty adopted resolutions which praised him for being a great and inspiring leader and an artist of the highest type, a man of high ideals, clear vision and lofty purposes, a devoted friend to faculty and students, a true citizen active in all that made for the highest good of the community and state.

(This is an excerpt from White Columns & Red Bricks by Lucille Griffith, Ph. D.)