by Haley Pye | Staff Writer
If a PC student is asked about the most memorable building on campus, the common response will almost always be Neville Hall. Neville Hall is regarded as the heart of campus (and PC), and has been around almost as long as the college itself. In light of the major renovations of the past year and a half, now is a prime time to look back on what Neville has meant to students and faculty throughout the years.
Students of all disciplines associate the building with slugging through gen-eds, taking an English class with that one special professor, or running late because they took the wrong staircase. For today’s first-years and sophomores, that last statement may need some explanation. As upperclassmen and alumni will recall (perhaps not to fondly), before the renovations and opening up of the dome, the upper levels of Neville consisted of twisting, short, interconnected hallways, half levels, and offices shoved into the ends of dark corridors. There was even a classroom, that could be found by going through the right series of steps and hallways on the more dilapidated side,that was rumored to be haunted.
Before going into the recent history of Neville however, perhaps it’s best to look at the building’s inception. Neville Hall, designed by Charles Coker Wilson, was completed in 1907. At the time it was known only as the administration building. At this point, Neville was one of only three major buildings on campus, the other two buildings being the alumni house and the first student dorm.
The administration building was finally named Neville Hall in 1944 in honor of one of the college’s early presidents, William G. Neville. Neville served as a pastor and presbyter, and initially declined the position of college president, citing that he felt he was called elsewhere. When he finally took on the position, he took to it with gusto, raising funds and laying plans to improve the college. He was the president when Neville Hall was originally built, and increased student enrollment to a whopping 120 students. Jas. H. Thornwell, in a memorial sketch, described him as being, “one of the most useful men of his day.” While these accomplishments may seem minuscule today, Neville’s impact on the college makes his name on the heart of campus well deserved.
It was not until 1965 that Neville was again renovated, and, much to the relief of students, air conditioning and an elevator were finally installed. It was during these renovations that the confusing split half floors were introduced to add 8,000 sq. feet to the building. It is about this time that records of student pranks also pop up. Somewhere around the mid to late 70s, students learned that if you strip a VW Beetle down to the chassis and take the doors off the hinges, the car can be parked in the rotunda for the next day’s classes. Apparently, this happened more than once. Also worth noting is the nickname students lovingly gave the building: the “Nipple of Knowledge.” It was considered good luck if you could manage to find a way to the to the roof and touch the dome. It is unknown at this time if that is still possible post-renovation, and this article is not a license to try it.
One last Neville tradition every PC student can recall with fondness began sometime in the 40s and stuck ever since. The tradition of walking through Neville onto Alumni Green for graduation has been around for decades and is still practiced today, creating a picturesque moment to celebrate seniors’ accomplishments with Neville Hall, the heart of campus for 110 years, as the dominating backdrop.