Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall
The result of the generosity of Henry and Ella St. Clair, the Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall resides at 215 West Fourth Street in Greenville, Ohio. The building is currently owned and operated by the Greenville City Schools. The Greenville City School Administration offices are currently located in the Hall.
In 1872, at the age of 20, Henry St. Clair moved to Greenville, OH, and together with his wife Ella, opened what eventually proved to be Darke County's most successful wholesale grocery business. By 1878, the St. Clair firm had sales in excess of $200,000.
Henry served on the School Board and was also a city councilman. He contributed generously to the Carnegie Library and other needs of the community. He dreamed of a building for educational and cultural purposes and wanted to build it during his lifetime for Greenville. However, Henry St. Clair died Oct. 7, 1908. In his will, he left $100,000 to be used for the construction of his dream building.
In his will, Henry St. Clair noted: "I will bequeath to the Board of Education of the City of Greenville, Ohio, the sum of $100,000 to be used for the purpose of erecting a Memorial Hall for the use and betterment of the public schools in any manner in which said board may think most practicable and beneficial to the public."
The school board wanted to build this Memorial Hall next to the library in the center of the property owned by the Greenville school system. However, this required moving the West High School building and placing it on a new foundation. Ella St. Clair covered the cost of this move, totaling $7,000, and in the spring of 1910, excavation work for Memorial Hall began.
When construction began, a copper box was mortared behind the cornerstone. This box contained coins of 1910, lists of national, state, county, and city officials, the day's program, lists of Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, biographical sketch and death notice of Mr. St. Clair, a copy of the St. Clair will, a roll of the faculty of the Greenville schools in 1910, the school's annual report, plans and specifications for the building, a copy of the local newspaper, post cards with a view of Greenville, and copies of Frazer Wilson's "Peace of Mad Anthony."
Howard and Miriam of Columbus, Ohio, were the project architects and E.E. Bope of Columbus was the main contractor. The building was constructed of Bedford stone and gray pressed bricks. Vermont marble adorned the vestibule and lobby, along with three massive stained glass windows. The hall also featured a Molar three-manual pipe organ from Hagerstowne, Maryland, which cost $7,000. The total project cost was $135,000, which Ella St. Clair paid.
The main entrance of this historic, heroic building is four steps above ground level, and opens into a memorial rotunda - 26 ft. by 46 ft. in height, terminating with a barrel ceiling with transverse arches rising from massive piers. The entire central portion of the building is reached by stairs 7 ft. in width, at either end of the vaulted lobby and an ornamental memorial stair directly in front of the entrances. The entire lobby, stairs, column bases, door casings and caps are made of polished Vermont marble.
From the main corridor, directly in front of the central staircase are the main entrances to the foyer of a large auditorium. The auditorium, together with balcony and boxes, had a seating capacity of 700 people. Today, after restoration, the auditorium seats 628. The auditorium dimensions are 64 ft. by 48 ft. in height, patterned after the beautiful Maxine Elliot Theatre of New York City.
This information came from The Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall Restoration & History booklet produced by Kathleen Kilgallon, Marketing Management Services of Greenville, OH.