St. Clair Hall has been a symbol of growth at Columbia College since 1900. The stately building originally contained all facilities needs for collegiate life. Administrative offices, parlors, a library, dining hall and more filled the four-story structure, including dormitory accommodations for 150 students.
During a time of flourishing enrollments, 244 students began classes in the Fall of 1911. Recent college maintenance revealed that one particular young woman, Gertrude Wiggins, left her mark inside a closet in what is now St. Clair Hall Room 225, a second-floor office.
“We discovered the writing when we were cleaning up the closet ahead of faculty moving in,” says Caitlynd Weekley, associate director of Plant & Facilities.
As General Maintenance worker Eric Parsons scraped away layers of old paint, he found the inscription “Gertrude Wiggins Eta Upsilon Gamma 1911-12” on the back wall. According to the 1912 College Widow yearbook, Wiggins joined the sorority during her freshman year. She graduated in 1914.
Eta Upsilon Gamma – one of several Greek sororities available to CC students during the time period – was founded at Christian College in 1901. Sororities were removed from campus life in 1915, and new student clubs were added in their place.
As the college expanded its footprint, construction allowed for dedicated living and dining spaces across campus. By the late 1970s, all residents relocated to new dormitories. Classrooms and offices were lined up and down St. Clair’s historic halls.
So often these pieces of history get painted over or covered during renovations, Weekley says. But Parsons and colleague Joe Schafer saw to it that this memory would live on – they turned the graffiti into a piece of history now safely framed behind plexiglass.
Behind the hallowed walls of St. Clair Hall, these treasures are protected for generations to come.