Two Kings and a Commodore: The History of Otterbein University’s Oldest Residence Hall

PLEASE NOTE: The blog contains quite a few pictures so give it several minutes to download. They download haphazardly.

It was anticipated that a blog about the history of a college dormitory would be fairly short. But unexpected discoveries grew into spinoffs. This blog ended up feeling like a long sentence diagrammed back in the day. I wonder if kids are still summoned to the chalkboard to do this.

King Hall, now Dunlap-King Hall, opened in the fall of 1926. The front of it looks like a style of architecture that was popular many years ago (today making a come-back referred to as American Craftsman. Sears-Roebuck sold via its catalog a lot of Craftsman style pre-manufactured houses. Maybe their Craftsman-brand tool line came from this. Despite the construction date being three years beyond suspected Columbus architect Frank Packard’s early passing at age 57 in 1923, I wondered if this was his design that had not been built due to funding not quite being there yet. There were two reasons for this hunch: Packard was a fan of the Craftsman style and the announcement of his passing in the Westerville newspaper stated: “Mr. Packard was also developing the Otterbein College building program.” It turns out another Columbus architect, Harry Clyde Holbrook, did the King Hall design.

John King of Scottdale, Pennsylvania, and Zella Bates of Rising Sun, Ohio, met while attending Otterbein. Members of the Class of 1894, they married and then departed for Africa where they spent the next eighteen years in a missionary capacity. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1912, they helped found a home for children and older adults in Lebanon, Ohio. Lebanon’s Otterbein Home, like Otterbein University, was affiliated with the United Brethren Church. Both were named after U.B. church co-founder Philip William Otterbein. The Kings managed the Otterbein Home, today a retirement community, for the next fourteen years.

After serving the needs of others in Africa and in Lebanon for a combined total of thirty-two years, the Kings moved to Westerville in 1926. Here, they continued serving…this time as house parents for college students in a dormitory constructed from their own funds. The Otterbein student newspaper reported “This new building project was not solicited by the college and came like a bolt from the clear sky.” In 1932, the Kings retired and moved a short distance to 150 West Main Street. The pictures that follow best tell their story.

Published 11/24/2022. Don Foster, Otterbein Class of 1973.

King Hall is built. Dr. and Mrs. King move in as resident managers.

John Resler King, Otterbein Class of 1894. Zella Bates King, Otterbein Class of 1894.
The Tan and Cardinal 4/13/1926. The architect H.C. Holbrook is identified. Note that the foundation work was done by Karg and Smith. This is Rollin Karg, son of Henry Kary who built Carnegie Library, Cochran Hall, Lambert Hall and the heating plant on the Otterbein campus. Rollin went into concrete block manufacturing and located his business by the railroad tracks, now a bike path, between East Broadway and East College Avenues.
Photo credit: Otterbein University Archives.
The Tan and Cardinal 5/11/1926.
Rollin Karg, King Hall foundation contractor. Freshman year, Otterbein yearbook Sibyl 1909. Rollin was at Otterbein for one year. His four sisters all graduated from Otterbein.
Rollin’s house on Vine Street which he and his father Henry built. Next door is Vine Street School (now Emerson Elementary). Henry was the general contractor for the four-classroom two-story addition at the rear of the school.
This real photo postcard captures all four campus buildings of which Henry Karg was general contractor: Carnegie Library at top left, heating plant right beneath it, Lambert Hall at top right, Cochran Hall at bottom right.
The gateway is also Karg-built.
Photo credit: Otterbein University Archives. Unidentified workers.
The Tan and Cardinal 5/4/1926.
Photo credit: Otterbein University Archives.
The Tan and Cardinal 9/21/1926.
The Tan and Cardinal 11/2/1926. Dedication was at Homecoming the previous weekend on October 30.

The decorative pitched roof at either end of King Hall are typical of American Craftsman style architecture. These three Packard designs are similar to the design of King Hall…which is why it was thought King might have been a Packard design. The house on the left is Packard’s which overlooks the grounds of the Franklin Park Conservatory in east Columbus.

Old aerial views. King Hall middle left both above and below.
King Hall top right above.
This house was purchased by Otterbein with the intent to remove it due to its too-close proximity to the new King Hall (visible in the background). It stood on the SW corner of West Main and Maple Streets and was purchased by Albert and Jane Morrison Horn (Otterbein Classes of 1949 and 1950 respectively). The Horns moved the house one block to North West Street. There, it became their residence. “Bert” was a long-time Treasurer of Otterbein, and Jane was a long-time Westerville elementary school teacher. Maple Street ran from West Main Street to West Park Street and was between King Hall and the science building. It’s visible in the three aerial views above.
Jane and Otterbein Business Manager Sanders Frye (Otterbein Class of 1948) on the one block ride to North West Street.
Relocation complete with a two-story addition. Jane’s great uncle John Morrison and then John’s daughter Ellen Jones owned the University Bookstore in the Uptown. In 1964, the bookstore moved to the newly opened Otterbein Campus Center (and ownership by Otterbein).
Bookstore owner John Morrison on right. Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
The bookstore history, dating to 1870, is a blog itself linked below.

Sanders Frye, mentioned 3 pictures ago, lived at 145 West Home Street which is a house Otterbein students now pass by daily. Previous to Frye ownership, this was the boyhood home of Gilbert Mills pictured below. He dropped out of Otterbein in 1912 to become Westerville’s first mail carrier. Home delivery began late in 1912 after house numbers were assigned. He later re-enrolled, finished his degree and taught at Otterbein. He and his wife Lillie were managers of King Hall 1934-38.
A short blog about Gilbert Mills is linked below.

Dr. and Mrs. King retire and move a short distance to 150 West Main Street.

The Kings circa sometime in the 1890’s.
Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
150 West Main Street as it appeared in 1948. The Kings moved here after serving as supervisors of King Hall and living in King from 1927 to 1932. Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
Rear addition under construction sometime in the 1930’s.
Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
The King’s son Alton (Otterbein Class of 1935) and his wife Nola (Otterbein Class of 1931).
Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
Alton and Nola. Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
Alton King operated a gas station on North State Street near West Home Street. This picture is dated 1949. Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
Circa 1937. All three structures in this picture still stand today.
Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
Photo credit. Random person, Pinterest. 🙂
The same automotive-related structure today with a south addition and the original service bay repurposed. It’s considered an important piece of Westerville history and recognized as such with an exterior plaque to the right of the window by the office door.

The Nicholsons, previous owners of 150 West Main Street.

Undated. Photo credit: Westerville History Museum.
John Nicholson, right, and his son Clifford on the left. John and his wife Elizabeth, below, may have been the first owners of the house. The construction year and first owner are unknown. Photo credit:
Richard Nicholson, great-grandson of John and grandson of Clifford.
Photo credit above and below: Richard Nicholson.
The U.S. Census lists John as “stock dealer” so he may have raised horses on this property.
Westerville Public Opinion 6/19/1924.
Westerville Public Opinion 10/6/1941.
Gravestone of John and Elizabeth Nicholson, Otterbein Cemetery.

“Commodore” Harry Clyde Holbrook, the architect of King Hall.

King Hall architect Harry Clyde Holbrook.
Photo credit: Find-A-Grave.
The Columbus Dispatch 7/18/1925. This lucky find is very likely how St. Clair church architect Harry Holbrook got the King Hall design contract. The second to last paragraph includes the names
F.M. Kumler and William J. Zuck, previous pastors of St. Clair and both Otterbein graduates.
Dayton Daily News 1/16/1929.
Francis Marion Kumler.
Otterbein Class of 1872.

The Columbus Dispatch 6/13/1908. What a fun find this was!! In addition to Harry Holbrook and Frank Packard, also pictured are George Bulford (one of the architects of the Bank of Westerville which is now Middlefield Banking Company in the Uptown), Fred Elliott (architect of the Westerville Armory), Harry Lum (one of the architects of Westerville’s Church of the Master UMC) and Edwin Pruitt (architect of Westerville’s First Presbyterian Church).
Westerville Public Opinion 11/1/1923. Packard died three years before King Hall was built, but based on the article above, he likely would have been the architect had he lived.
Frank Packard was the architect of an 1891 remodel of the men’s Philomathean Literary Society room in Towers Hall. Some of his design work is still seen today: the doors, windows and woodwork. The Westerville Public Opinion 0f 9/3/1891 stated: “The windows of the hall are much like the doors. They are elaborate design in opalescent and Chauncey cathedral glass, bounded by colonial bands set with jewels…The finishing of the entire hall is in birch wood, hard oiled and highly polished.”
Joseph Yost and Frank Packard designed the Christian Association Building constructed in 1892. Roush Hall stands there today. Students raised the funds. The two largest gifts were $250, a sizable amount back then. One was from the Rike family…and the other was from
Yost & Packard. Photo credit: Otterbein Archives.
This real photo postcard of the building shows, on the left, what today is known as Howard House. Built by Dr. Purley and Lillie Baker on about 12 acres, “Greendale” included a greenhouse (seen above the letters YMCA), a dairy and a cobblestone carriage house. Post the Baker era, the lower level was the site of the first Westerville Public Library in 1930. The property later became subdivided. Baker was superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of America.
The cobblestone carriage house of “Greendale” survives at 60 University Street behind Jonda Fraternity.
Designed by Frank Packard, Otterbein’s Carnegie Library opened in 1908 and today houses the Office of Admission. Its history is described in a blog linked below.

Back to Harry. This is probably Holbrook’s most significant design still standing today: the Midland Theatre built in 1928 in downtown Newark. It’s been restored and now hosts a variety of events.
Restoration of the Midland underway.
Today. This building is to Newark what the Ohio Theatre is to Columbus.
Coincidentally, the Holbrook-designed Midland is right across the street from where the three-story (maybe four per the picture) Yost & Packard-designed Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hall once stood.
Coliseum at the Ohio Exposition Center, one of a number of fairgrounds buildings designed by Holbrook and business partner Harry Z. Dawson.
Westerville Public Opinion 3/21/1918.
Residence of William and Amanda Clark on South State Street in Westerville. Built 1870. The front entryway was originally screened as shown below in an old house-for-sale real estate listing.
Another Holbrook design still standing today: Buckeye Lake Yacht Club which was built in 1913.
Found this on Facebook. A frozen lake.
The Columbus Dispatch 5/12/1912.
The Buckeye Lake Yacht Club today. There is a resurgence at Buckeye Lake.
Perhaps this building will see some cosmetic enhancements that might highlight its design.
Note the “Commodore” beneath Harry’s name above…and thus part of the name of this blog.
The Columbus Dispatch 9/19/1915.
The Columbus Dispatch 7/22/1912.
The Columbus Dispatch 9/10/1911.
Originally built in 1912 for Clayton and Alma McCleary at 212 East 15th Avenue in Columbus, this structure joins King Hall as the second Holbrook design housing college students.
This is Delta Zeta Sorority at Ohio State University.
Rendering appeared in The Columbus Dispatch 2/11/1912.
The front has been altered. Found this picture of Delta Zeta on Facebook.

In conclusion…

The King house at 150 West Main Street today. Owned by Otterbein.
Coincidence or intentional? Dr. King was president of the Benjamin Hanby Memorial Association which moved the former Hanby family home (on the left) and restored it. Today, Hanby House is a state historic site owned by the Ohio History Connection. Could a personal attachment to this piece of Westerville history have been the reason the Kings purchased and moved to the
West Main Street house next door?
The Hanby House is recognized in this plaque which will be attached to the Church in mid-2023.
Dunlap-King Hall today.
Otterbein Towers, Winter 1988.

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