Remembering the Manchester University Administration Building

History & Overview Frequently Asked Questions Alumni Stories

History and Overview

The existing Administration Building is actually three connected sections. The central portion was erected in 1920, combining the original Bumgerdner Hall on the east side and the 1895 Bible School on the west side. In Bumgerdner’s early years, faculty taught their students in early morning and evening by the light of coal oil lamps. All three sections were built for a different time – when buildings were heated differently and not cooled at all, when electricity was cutting-edge technology, and when today’s technology was inconceivable.

Manchester has explored options for the Administration Building, literally, for years. The building’s functionality has decreased gradually through aging, lack of accessibility and inadequate heating and cooling systems.

Looking Back at the Administrative BuildingLooking Back at Meetings in the Administrative Building

Razing the building and replacing it with a new, smaller and more functional Administration Building was one of the main initiatives of the Students First! campaign, approved by the board in 2009.

As we moved through the campaign and considered how best to serve our students, we decided to use a $5.4 million gift from the late Herb Chinworth ’42c to construct the Lockie and Augustus Chinworth Center, rather than build a new Administration Building. The Chinworth Center, which honors Herb’s parents, is connected to the Jo Young Switzer Center (former Union), and it opened in 2019. It houses the Arthur L. Gilbert College of Business and offices that directly serve students. Placing it next to the Switzer Center and Academic Center put it in a more central campus location.

In 2012, Manchester completed renovation of the former Holl-Kintner Hall of Science into a new Academic Center with modern classrooms, study areas, faculty offices, Sisters Café and the Office of Admissions. That emptied the second and third floors of the Administration Building, leaving about 40 administrative employees working on the first floor and in the basement.

The administration building is scheduled to be razed in 2022 and construction will begin on a new addition to the MU campus. A new bell tower will be celebrated during Homecoming in 2022 in recognition of 100 years of MU

In 2019, those administrative employees were moved after bricks started falling from the façade and a major leak was discovered in the roof, in addition to other concerns such as radon levels and mold. We found office space in other campus buildings for those employees.

In August 2021, the bells were removed from the old Chime Tower for restoration. We will construct a new Chime Tower on the mall with elements that honor the historic significance of the Administration Building. The bells will be reinstalled next summer, and we will dedicate the Manchester icon’s 100th year at Homecoming 2022.

Is there a video of the celebration service livestream?


Can I get a copy of the litany of gratitude and goodbye from the service?


Why are we razing the Administration Building?

In exploring options to try to save the Administration Building, contractors estimated renovation costs to be over $7.5 million – well beyond the resources we have available to invest in the building. If we had moved forward with that option, those costs ultimately would have been borne by current and future students, which the Board of Trustees and administration did not feel right in doing, especially given our other needs and responsibilities to keep Manchester affordable for our students, investing in student learning, and being good stewards of Manchester’s financial sustainability for future generations.

What options were considered for saving the building?

The administration conducted an exhaustive review of alternatives over the past 18 months. Just since June 2020, at least five engineering firms or developers have looked at the building and estimated what it would take to restore it. We explored gutting the interior to create student-only housing, and mixed-use housing within the shell. We explored working with an outside developer experienced in restoring historic buildings, developers experienced in affordable community housing, and undertaking the project ourselves.

Each option had significant, long-term financial impacts, including increased housing costs for students, increased debt and debt service, and increased operating expenses. Those financial impacts would be borne ultimately by both students and colleagues.

We explored renovating the Administration Building for student housing, and found it would have been the most expensive housing option on campus. Most of our students are already hard pressed to pay for on-campus housing, and we believe few would be able or willing to pay the higher price. We are mindful of the sacrifices that they and their families make to attend college.

We found that, if a developer renovated the building for another purpose, revenue from operating the building would go to the developer. If we had pursued tax credits, the credits would have gone to the project’s donors and investors, not Manchester. We still would be responsible for managing and populating the building. In other words, someone else would get the financial benefits, but the University would still have significant physical and financial responsibility for the building.

We also explored other alternatives such as government grants, but those programs typically come with significant use restrictions and are too small to represent much savings for Manchester.

How much would it cost to renovate the building?

The historical organization Indiana Landmarks connected us with Core Development, a redevelopment group with expertise in historic renovations. Core estimated the cost of renovating the building for student housing to be $7.5 million, with $3.5 million coming from Core, $1 million from historic tax credits, and $3 million from Manchester-solicited donations and investments. This estimate did not include renovating Wampler Auditorium or doing significant renovation of the basement.

In this scenario, Manchester would remain liable for operating, populating and maintaining the building. We also explored undertaking the renovations on our own through new debt. With that scenario, current and future MU students would pay for that debt. Specifically, every MU undergraduate student for the next 10 years would need to pay an additional $1,200 in order for Manchester to save the building. Most would never live in the building. It is not fair to put that burden on them. We want their dollars to pay for their education and student experiences.

Can we raise the funds needed to renovate it?

Very unlikely. We study our donors’ financial capacity and have spoken with many of them about their philanthropic interests, and we know that most prioritize supporting Manchester students in their pursuit of a college education. Any funds we might raise for a renovation project would almost certainly reduce what we could raise for other priorities such as student scholarships, investing in academic programs and more pressing capital projects in buildings on the North Manchester campus used by students.

Did the building deteriorate because Manchester didn’t take care of it?

We took care of it as best we could, but many of the problems are structural, stemming from its construction more than a century ago. There is asbestos in the building and lead in old paint. There is no central ventilation system for heating and cooling. We have had issues with mold, the flat roof and radon. Mice, chipmunks and bats were frequent visitors. As one engineer noted, the building has major structural issues that have likely been issues for half a century.

Have you explored razing the middle section and keeping the east and west wings?

We have, and experts in historical restoration tell us that the historical significance of the structure is the building in its entirety. Engineers tell us that because the buildings have been combined for so long that they likely have settled together and cannot be separated without compromising the structural integrity of what remains.

In other words, removing the center could in turn create significant re-engineering costs to preserve the remaining two sections.

Can we mothball the building?

“Mothballing” refers to taking a building out of service but preserving it enough to prevent further deterioration, possibly for future use. The roof would need to be repaired and the façade needs to be secured. We also would need to maintain a certain airflow in the building, which does not have ductwork or a centralized HVAC system. In short, mothballing would be expensive.

Indiana Landmarks indicated interest in covering those costs, and a willingness to fundraise from its donors to cover the costs of mothballing the building. Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to mothball the building was not about cost, but about seeing a realistic future use for the building. Based on the alternatives explored, we didn’t see any viable options over the next five to 10 years and concluded that mothballing would just delay the decision to tear it down at an even higher cost and place that burden on those who follow us.

What will go in its place?

For now, we will plant grass and maintain the area as a green space featuring mature oak trees and the beloved fountain as its focal point. The fountain will be repaired as part of this project. Should future needs arise, the open area could be used to construct another building, as well.

How much will it cost to raze the building?

We have a bid to raze it now for $550,000. Delaying the decision will only make it more expensive down the road.

When is the building coming down?

The exact timing will be determined by the contractor, but almost certainly before the end of summer 2022.

How will Manchester honor the history of the Administration Building, and can we salvage its more historic pieces?

We will celebrate the building and its service in a variety of ways.

Plans are in the works to have an in-person and livestreamed memorial event to celebrate our memories of the building, say farewell and honor its role over the years.

We also invite alumni and others to send their memories about the building to with the subject line: Administration Building Memories. We intend to share memories on the university's website as another way to honor the history of the building.

We will save what is feasible – including potential ways to incorporate elements of the building or a memorial plaque in the new Chime Tower.

Can alumni purchase bricks when the building is razed?

Our plan is to place bricks at an accessible location on campus so that people can come get them as mementos. For those living further away, we will provide a way to purchase bricks for the cost of shipping. More details regarding this option will be shared in the coming weeks.

Is this one more example of how Manchester is becoming less like the Manchester that we know?

We understand how it might feel that way to some. But, Manchester is not a building or collection of buildings. Manchester is the people – the people who changed our lives and broadened our horizons, the people who remain lifelong friends.

Several people who love the Administration Building recently shared that what they value most about the building were the people who taught and worked there. Manchester has replaced many buildings over the years to better serve students and be good stewards of resources. This decision was made with the same goals in mind.

Manchester presents itself to the world through our mission, our values, and our belief in the infinite worth of every individual. We are reflected through our graduates of ability and conviction and the many ways they make the world a better place. That is our essence, and it endures over time.

Your stories are powerful.

Stories are best told by those who experienced them first hand. It is often said, "If these walls could talk." Your perspective means they can! Now is the time to tell your stories, relive your memories, and share your experiences for everyone to enjoy.

If you have a treasured story, please share it with us. While you're here, we encourage you to visit the Administration Building Photo Gallery.

Order an Administration Building Brick

Bricks will be set aside for those who want a memento. If you want to pick one up, please email to make sure we save enough. If you don’t live nearby, we can ship one to you at cost. To purchase a brick, please complete the Administration Building Brick form.

Alumni Stories

Junior Mugging
My class was the last to participate in “Junior Mugging” in the Ad Building. This photo is from February 2018, when we were able to go see the Chimes at the top of the building.

Beth Schaefer, Mikayla Patterson, Annika Barce, and Madalyn Minehart - Class of 2019

Shared Photos
Photos shared by Jenny Steele, Manchester University Human Resources.

MU Trivia

I would like to share a couple bits of trivia. My father, Roy J. Gilmer, did a pencil sketch (or pen and ink) of the administration building entrance. This sketch was used for many years on the front of the (I believe it was) bulletin that is sent to alumni (I think it is the alumni bulletin). I might have the name of the newsletter/bulletin wrong but it was a communication that was sent out several times a year. I believe the university stopped using his drawing a few years ago. My father graduated in 1934 (I believe). Another bit of trivia--my uncle, Clarence Y. Gilmer, rang the bell to indicate the beginning and ending of classes. There was a rope that ran from the bell tower to his room in the men's dorm. I hope this information was helpful.

Sincerely, Larry Gilmer (Class of 1958).

The Original Campus Communications System

This black board outside the President’s office was our campus communication center—no cell phones or internet. The left side (which was locked) was for faculty. The reminder was for student body input to announce meetings, deadlines and occasionally editorial comments. John Holl (with cap) is standing at the left and the person on the right is Bill Christopher III. The notice in the right upper corner is a plea for seniors to return their choice of a photo for use in the 1959 Aurora. I was the co-editor with Bob Burt.

Submitted by Harry L. Keffer, M.D.

Four Memories of the Old Administration Building

  1. As a young boy in the early fifties, my parents would bring me to visit my brothers in college. At only 10 years old the ride was 70 miles long (forever) and I would get excited when I could see the bell tower as we were driving down Indiana 13 just a few miles north of campus.
  2. On one of those visits, a student, who played the chimes, took me up to the top of the bell tower and showed me where he played the chimes. As I remember with ropes and levers.
  3. In 1965 the year of my graduation I can remember some very intelligent math students on the third floor of the administration building working in a small room with wires everywhere. Later I realized they were building a ‘computer’ before we knew what a computer was.
  4. On November 22, 1963 during final term exams and sometime in the afternoon, the chimes went ‘bong’, ‘bong’, and ‘bong’ many times to announce and remember President Kennedy’s assassination. Those chime sounds have remained in my memory all my life since.

Glenn Oxender, Class of 1965

November 22, 1963

My most vivid memory of the Ad Bldg. happened on November 22, 1963 as I was standing in line outside the main office to pay my bills for the second quarter that year.

It was approximately 1:40 when a young male student I didn't know rushed in and shouted "The President has been shot!" At first we all laughed, but then we realized he was quite serious. After paying my bill, I headed back my dorm and spent the next 3 1/2 days glued to the television set in the lobby of Oakwood along with most of my fellow dwellers.

It's a day that I can never forget of my four years at Manchester College (then!)

Jennie (Stump) Oberholtzer

Class of 1965

The Squirrel is Ok!

It's sad that the goodbye to the Ad Building won't be in person, but hey, it's the right choice. I've attached a link to some photos from my wedding that we took at the Ad Building. It's been such an iconic landmark, I knew it would make a great shooting location.

A memory I have of the building that I did not get a picture of and may be somewhat disturbing due to (possible) animal injury: One day I was out near the fountain and I saw a squirrel at the top of the tower, kind of scrabbling, trying to get past the soffits and onto the roof. The squirrel made a desperate jump but didn't make it and fell all the way down to the sidewalk about 5 feet in front of me. Hardly missing a beat, the squirrel kind of took off, pushing with its hind legs, and disappeared into the bushes. I was totally shocked, as I think most people would be. I went to look in the bushes and the squirrel was sitting there, breathing very hard, looking around with a bit of a "What the heck" kind of look on its face. The poor thing was intact and didn't seem to be bleeding. I watched it for a while and then left. Since then I have learned that squirrels have the nearly-unique ability to survive falls where they reach terminal velocity, so this was always going to be the outcome, but hoo boy at the moment it was quite the scare.

In any case, thank you again,

Rachel McFadden, Class of 2006

Move in Day


Photo submitted by Mariella Angeles, Class of '20 from move in day, August 2016.

Some thoughts on the Administration Building at Manchester

This building represented Manchester to me more than any other on campus. It is regal, dignified, and multi-functional. The President's office was there, as well as the offices of the Deans, the Registrar, Financial Aid, and a host of other administrators. Lots of classrooms on the upper floors, the beloved chimes at the very top - so picturesque.

My best memories are these:

Just inside the main entrance, on the north side in the corner, was "command central" for the campus phone system - the Switchboard office. Every single phone call that came to the main Manchester number went through that switchboard. It was there that the campus switchboard operator worked, a job I held the summer of 1972 and throughout my senior year at Manchester (1972-73). Sometimes various staff members would stop by for a chat, especially Jim Garber and Leland Beery. Of course, the campus ultimately upgraded to a more sophisticated system, but I loved that job, working in the same building where my parents, Ivandale Snyder and Helen Pauling Snyder, had attended classes while students at Manchester in the mid-1930's.

Then, there was Sadie Wampler Hall, where I made my Manchester theater "debut" in the fall of 1969 in the one-act Tennessee Williams play, "The Lady of Larkspur Lotion". I went on to perform Stella in "Streetcar Named Desire" on that stage, with the dubious distinction of being the first actor in the college's history to appear on stage wearing only a slip. The next year I appeared there as one of the Pigeon sisters in "The Odd Couple." Below the theater, in the basement, were the dressing rooms and make-up rooms. The walls of those basement rooms were filled with posters and photos of Tri-Alpha productions from years past. I spent hours in that theater, not only rehearsing and performing but watching other rehearsals and performances by my theater friends.

Another memory - not mine but from my father: Dad told a story about his days at Manchester where he and a bunch of his buddies somehow finagled getting a cow up to the top floor of the Administration building. The purpose was never disclosed, but one must assume someone dared someone else and then the gig was on. Not sure of the date, but sometime between 1935 and 1937, when my father was a student completing his Normal degree. Fortunately, the episode did not prohibit his receipt of his diploma.

It is hard to imagine Manchester without the Admin building but my memories remain, as do those of the countless other Manchester students who graced that wonderful space.

With fond memories,

Elaine Snyder

Class of 1973

Homecoming 2017

This picture was taken on October 14, 2017. Loved the mums we drove around on golf carts putting out for Homecoming. So many memories

Submitted by Gabrielle Anglin '19

A Couple Stories

  1. I was allowed to hold a Psychological study on smoking on the third floor of the Administration Building.
  2. I was told that many years ago a Cow was taken to the third floor of the Administration Building.
  3. Earning my way through college, I was a member of the cleaning crew and can remember cleaning the floors with a rotating scrubber.

Thanks for allowing us to post our memories.
You all take care and have a good day.
Very appreciative,
Donald R. Shilts, class of 1978

The Memories Remain Fresh in my Mind

Although I do not own any photographs of these events, their memories remain fresh in my mind:

  • Attending plays directed by Tom Roland in the Sadie Wampler auditorium, everything from “A Long Day’s Journey into Night” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” to “The Odd Couple”;
  • Meeting with Leland Berry in the Financial Aid office and being granted another $50 from the Miller Emergency Fund to survive until a larger student loan arrived;
  • Taking notes like mad during a lecture from Dr. C. James Bishop in “Asian Civ” class;
  • Learning about Henrich Boll and Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Dr. Henry Glade’s Comparative Literature class and reciting each week’s dialogue in his German courses;
  • Seeing the excitement in the eyes of Dr. Joann Martin as our class would start reading a new Shakespeare play.

SM Clark

Photo Submitted by Emily Ewan

The Administration Building was so Special

The Administration Building was so special and I attended many classes there. I remember the chime tower, radio station, wooden creaky floors, administration offices and dear professors. Many wonderful memories at Manchester. I appreciate building bricks being available. I plan to watch the service on Friday.

Submitted by Randa Eby

Locked Out of Dad's office, Tom Saved the Day


I am deeply saddened by the coming demise of the Ad Building. Although I did spend my first two years of college at Manchester, my most vivid memories of it are from my childhood, spending the first 5 1/2 years of my life on College Ave before my family moved out to the country. I remember playing on the sidewalk in the early evening and hearing the chimes play, letting us know it was time to head home. Such a lovely way to wind down a day!

My dad is Charles Klingler, who taught English at Manchester for 30 years, I think. His first office later became T Wayne Rieman's, I believe, and then, Ken Brown's, maybe? My dad had a big reproduction of El Greco's Don Quixote hanging on the wall. Even though it would be several years before he wore a goatee, I often thought of the tall man on horse as him.

I also remember being around 4, when my 3 older siblings decided to take me along on one of their antics. They were somehow able to enter the bell tower and where I followed them up some very steep stairs. Once at the top, we peered out the open windows and dropped water balloons. It was thrilling!

One cold winter's night, after we had moved out to Singer Rd., my brother Tom and I were with my dad as he was closing his office. When we got to the car, he realized he had left both the car keys and his office keys in the office. Tom and I waited in the cold car (we left cars open in those days), while Dad went back to get the keys, only to find the office door had locked behind him when we left. Eventually, Tom, little monkey that he was, stood on my dad's shoulders and climbed into the window at the top of the door of the classroom that was attached to Dad's office. Tom climbed down, found the keys, and saved the day.

A year or so after the key incident, I had a knitting lesson on College Avenue after school and went to Dad's office afterward to wait for a ride home. I started to open the door to his classroom, but was having trouble with the door knob. All of a sudden, the door flung open. My dad stood there as I faced a room full of students. I was shocked and everyone laughed. He asked me to come in and I sat on the front row, frozen in self-consciousness, until the class ended.

My college memories aren't nearly as clear, but I can still smell the comfort of the old wooden floors of the Ad Building, always so shiny and warm, and perilously uneven. But they were also inviting and solid, welcoming young scholars to the journey of a liberal arts education, preluding a profound life.


Submitted by Rebecca J Klinger

An Earthquake in the 1980's

One of the most frightening experiences I ever had during my 39 years of teaching at Manchester happened on a Sunday afternoon. I don't remember what year it was, but I think it was in the mid-1980's. I was working in my office on the second floor of the Ad Building, when the window in my office began to rattle. Just slightly at first, then more vigorously. I soon realized that I was experiencing the only earthquake I've ever felt in Indiana. I ran down the stairs and got out of the building as quickly as I could! There was no apparent damage to the building, but at the time it sounded and felt like the whole place was going to collapse around me. I'll never forget that, along with the thousands of positive interactions I had with students, staff, and colleagues in that place.

Submitted by Brad Yoder

Photos of the Administration Building

Submitted by Michael Leckrone '92,
Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement

Getting Ready for a Presentation

The time was spring of 73. There I was bare naked in the basement men’s bathroom wrapping a sheet around me as an Indian (not native American) holyman loincloth when in walks Dr. Helman the college president. He looks at me and says, “Peach (my nickname) what are you doing?” I replied, “Oh, I have a presentation for Dr. Bishop’s class.” He says, “Well, I guess that makes sense. Good luck.” And then he walks out without using the toilet. I did get an A for the presentation. I was surprised that he recognized me as I had completely shaved my head.

Submitted by David (The Georgia Peach) Priser 74

Chapel Time

This photo is "Chapel Time" taken during the Academic Year 1954-55. Chapel was M-W-F from 9:30 to 10:00 am and Tues. and Thurs. had a free half hour. That was before the area was remodeled to Wampler Auditorium.

Submitted by Ed Miller

From the Family Photo Album | 1920-1924

These are photos taken by my grandfather, Ardon Flory Denlinger, during his time as a student at Manchester from 1920-1924. The only photo I could date is the May Day 1923 photo.

Of interest is the aerial photo of College Avenue. Is that the wing of a plane?

The loan photo of a woman in front of the Admin building is my grandmother, Mary Ruth Fisher Denlinger. She and my grandfather met at Manchester. Her father, I believe, was in the 1920 graduating class, Rev. William Fisher.

Our son is a current Manchester student, Ben Tipton.

Submitted by Mindy (McAdams) Tipton

Our First Kiss

We would like to share a memory about our parents, Gene and Lenore Butterbaugh Palsgrove, '48, written by Gene.

"Lenore and I double dated with our friends, Al Hollenberg, and his future wife, Donna. Good buddy Al arranged to get a key to the college chimes tower. That evening found the four of us alone on top of the chimes tower high above the campus, as a full moon rose, bathing us in moonlight. I didn't object when Al and Donna decided to leave us alone. Standing in the moonlight, our conversation went thusly, 'Lenore, I have a dream about us.' 'What is it?' she replied. 'I can't tell you, but I can show you.' There on the top of the chimes tower, we shared our first kiss. A kiss to build a dream on. In ensuing years, we made arrangements to relive that sacred night."

Submitted by: Kathy Palsgrove Tellin, Becky Palsgrove Davis, Ed Palsgrove, Marcia Palsgrove '82

The Timeline

Manchester University is rich with history and that is apparent in the memories from the Administration Building. Comprised of the two original buildings from the late 1800s and bridged by an addition from the 1920s, the Administration Building was the site of many significant campus events. The building served as an iconic backdrop and represented the heart of the University.

A Slideshow Tribute

Special Thanks to Bekah Houff, University Pastor, for her contributions celebrating the Administration Building.