PC’s Progressive President

Spencer-6thAlmon Edwin Spencer had been serving as a professor of Greek and French for six years when he was named PC’s sixth President in 1897. Spencer led PC during a time of great change during his tenure as president and even afterward, as he served PC for a total of 54 years.

A number of extracurricular activities were added to the college’s program, including two literary societies, two short-lived social fraternities, and an increasing focus on athletics.

The college library had its beginning during Spencer’s presidency as well, as literary societies collected more than 2,000 volumes by 1903. The collection 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 addition, eight acres were added to the 16-acre campus, and a house was built for the president, where Douglas House now stands.

The venture to bring PC under the Synod of South Carolina’s full control and support, begun by President Murray, was successfully completed during Spencer’s last year in 1904. “The long-sought action brought rejoicing to Clinton, which saw the college’s greater future now assured,” wrote Ben Hay Hammet in The Spirit of PC.

After leaving office, Spencer returned to the faculty 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.

Also after his presidency, 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, according to Nancy Griffith in Clinton: A Brief History.

Source: Information provided by PC Archives