Almon E. Spencer, 1897-1904
Almon Edwin Spencer, a graduate of Centre College, was hired as a professor of Greek and French in 1891. During his tenure as the sixth president of Presbyterian College, a number of extracurricular activities were added to the college’s program: two literary societies and two short-lived social fraternities. There was also an increasing focus on athletics. Also during the Spencer years, the campus was enlarged by eight acres to a total of 24 acres and a house was built for the president, a frame structure where Douglas House now stands.
An early focus of the literary societies was to collect books, the beginnings of the college library. By 1903, the volumes numbered more than 2,000 and included many valuable scientific and standard books from the collection of Professor J. R. Blake of Greenwood. Professor William S. Bean served as librarian until 1920 while also fulfilling his teaching responsibilities.
In 1904 the Synod of South Carolina brought PC under its full control and support. The long-sought action brought rejoicing to Clinton, which saw the college’s greater future now assured (The Spirit of PC, Hammet, 19).
In 1906, Dr. Spencer began to develop the part of town known as Bailey’s Woods. This swampy piece of land—where Woodrow, Cleveland, Owens, South Adair and Calvert streets are now located—was a wilderness and hunting ground. Rev. J. Ferdinand Jacobs and Mr. George H. Ellis helped Dr. Spencer to drain it, and he decided to name the widest street in the neighborhood, Calvert Avenue, after his wife, Martha Calvert Spencer (Clinton: A Brief History, Nancy Griffith, 64).
Around the turn of the century, South Carolina colleges formed the State Association of Colleges for Athletics in order to set up and enforce rules and regulations in sports which had been nonexistent to that point. At that time baseball was the only varsity sport on campus. Eight games were played each spring against other colleges. According to Miss Fronde Kennedy, in 1895 there were no stands at the baseball diamond, but girls always attended all the games and sat in chairs carried to the site (Hammet, 18).
Upon leaving office, Dr. Spencer returned to the faculty for a total of 54 years of service to PC, while retaining administrative rank as vice-president and bursar of the college. He served again as acting president from 1910-11 and for six months in 1926.
In 1922, Spencer Hall dormitory was erected and named in honor of A. E. Spencer, the sixth president. Spencer Hall was replaced in 1995 by the Harrington-Peachtree Academic Center.