Posts Tagged ‘Stephen B. L. Penrose’

I am curious about the places and people my great uncle wrote about in his 1914 – 1917 letters home. I just put the question out there and my good friend, Karyn, who lives in Walla Walla (and who is very familiar with the campus) sent me some links. My brother also got on the Internet and did some poking around. Here’s what they gleaned.

First: St. Paul’s School for Girls: “Saint Paul’s School for Girls was founded in 1872 by The Reverend Lemuel H. Wells, who later became the first Bishop of Spokane.  The school offered both day and boarding options for grades six through twelve.”

Stephen B.L. Penrose was President of Whitman College from 1894-1934.  One tidbit under his name is this (copied and pasted from the website: Portraits of of the Past):

World War I


Prior to America’s involvement in the First World War, Whitman College was a paragon of compassion for “benighted Europe.” This concern extended not only to the English and French – whom the Americans would eventually aid – but also the Germans and Austrians. The faculty organized a shelf in the library that provided pamphlets explaining both sides of the conflict, students participated in German Club, and funds were raised to assist Europeans who were in prisoner-of-war camps. One professor of German, Samuel Kroesch, prepared a selection of German plays appropriate for student performance and distributed this list to the surrounding region. Even after America joined the war, Whitman continued its tolerant attitude and was one of only a handful of schools to maintain its German studies department throughout the duration of the war. President Penrose chose to open the campus to new troops in an effort to retain male students who might otherwise drop out in order to enlist. Although the military presence on campus was not as great it would become during the World War II, students benefitted from being allowed both to serve and continue their studies at Whitman.

That explains the name Kroesche in Dale’s letter of March 13, and the German Play he referred to.

Now, things get mysterious: Dale’s letters always begin with “Prentiss Hall”, but the history cited on the Whitman College website states very clearly that Prentiss Hall was not built until 1926! Further, it was, and is, a women’s residence hall. I’m pretty certain Dale knew where he was and wasn’t making up things, but why the history doesn’t match… ???

I did a little more research – found this tidbit from Lyman’s History of Old Walla Walla (pub. 1918) It’s a free ebook, available at this link:

“On October s3, 1866, the first building was dedicated. It was on the location of the present Whitman Conservatory of Music. The building was removed to make way for the conservatory and now composes part of Prentiss Hall, a dormitory for young men.”

Sometime between 1918 and 1926, Prentiss Hall as my great uncle knew it ceased to exist. In 1926, it was rebuilt as a brand new building, and the prior history was lost. That’s the only explanation I have.


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