Almon Edwin 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 Presbyterian’s sixth president, 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. The campus was enlarged by the addition of eight acres to a total of 24, 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” (Hammet, Spirit of PC, 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.” (Nancy Griffith, Clinton: A Brief History, 64)
Upon leaving the president’s office, Dr. Spencer returned to the faculty while retaining administrative rank as vice-president and bursar of the college. He served Presbyterian College for a total of 54 years, once again as acting president from 1910-11 and for six months in 1926.