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In the meantime West College, the oldest building on campus, had been condemned as unsuitable for classroom use. Many alumni hoped that "Old Asbury," as the former Edifice was sometimes known, might be restored. But the trustees decided to replace the once-rebuilt structure with a new classroom facility perpetuating the memory of the pioneer Methodist bishop after whom the university had originally been named.




In 1930 Asbury Hall was erected on West Campus, across from Middle College. Its construction was made possible in a time of economic depression by borrowing from the university's endowment fund as well as by special gifts. Housing the social science and humanities departments, Asbury soon became one of the most frequented places on campus. A few years later West College was razed, but President Oxnam's plan for an equestrian statue of Francis Asbury on its site was never realized.

Asbury Hall was dedicated in 1930.  Largely housing
classrooms and offices for the humanities and social
science departments it has probably been the busiest
building in the second half of the 20th century on the
DePauw Campus.

Asbury Hall also represented a new type of architecture on campus. It was designed by the indifatigable Robert F. Daggett in the Georgian or Colonial Revival mode which the board of trustees had adopted in 1929 as the official architectural style for future DePauw buildings. Its wide chimneys at either end of the central section, dormer windows and reverse-gable roof on the outer sections, and red-brick walls were typical features of the Colonial Williamsburg style that was becoming popular on many university campuses at the time and was to dominate DePauw architecture over the next few decades. In 1935 the Publications Building, financed largely by means of revenues from the student newspaper and yearbook, was constructed next to Asbury Hall in the same style. Some living units built in this period were also designed in Colonial Revival style, such as the Sigma Nu house on the corner of Seminary Street and College Avenue. Other additions to the campus in the Oxnam administration were a new maintenance building erected behind Middle College in 1930 and a small fieldhouse at Blackstock Field, paid for from student athletic fees, in 1933. In the summer of 1931 four concrete tennis courts were built behind Bowman Gymnasium.



In the early morning hours of Sunday, October 12, 1933, fire broke out in Mansfield Hall, causing damage estimated at $100,000 to the oldest women's dormitory on campus. An intrepid coed carried Mildred Dimmick, the housemother, who had sprained her ankle, out of the burning building, but the only casualty was the president's son, Robert Oxnam, who was struck but not seriously injured by a piece of plaster while taking part in the rescue of residents' belongings. Most of the displaced women were assigned to Johnson House, a frame building on Walnut Street donated to the university some years before by Greencastle resident D. B. Johnson and used up to this time for housing male students. A few freshman sorority pledges were allowed to take up residence in their chapter houses.

After an appraisal of the partly-destroyed building that indicated the unfeasibility of restoring it, Mansfield Hall was razed and the site landscaped. The threat of fire to another building of the same vintage and type of construction brought about the evacuation of Middle College not long afterwards. The botanical and zoological laboratories were moved from the building's upper stories to a frame structure first erected as an annex to Florence Hall. Other departments were relocated in Asbury Hall, and in 1934 the old college building that had been originally designed as a men's residence hall was finally demolished, the third such campus landmark to disappear in this period. Financial constraints postponed the planned construction of a new women's dormitory, a science classroom building, and more capacious facilities to replace the outdated Carnegie Library.

President Oxnam, concerned about reports of falling church attendance, inaugurated a special interdenominational vespers service on Sunday evenings that proved popular with students. Daily morning chapel was continued on a voluntary basis, but with religious services only on Wednesday. By 1933 this worship chapel and the Sunday evening vespers were conducted in the sanctuary of Gobin Memorial Church, its ecclesiastical setting and the robed university choir adding much to the dignity and solemnity of the occasion. On other weekdays chapel was held in Meharry Hall, featuring talks by the president, professors, or visiting speakers, with usually a musical program on Friday. President Oxnam himself was a frequent chapel speaker, sometimes choosing controversial topics dealing with contemporary social issues or discussing his summer travels in Europe or the Orient. Through his wide contacts with pacifist and social reform circles he was able to bring to campus leading figures in those movements, including Norman Thomas, Kirby Page, and Sherwood Eddy. One program in 1935 was devoted to a student demonstration for world peace.

Shortly after his arrival on campus President Oxnam gave evidence of his own antimilitarist views by issuing an administrative order making participation in R.O.T.C. voluntary rather than compulsory. Both the faculty and the student body had discussed this idea before but without any decision being made. Despite outcries from the American Legion and similar organizations, Oxnam went even farther in 1934, calling upon the trustees to abolish the entire R.O.T.C. program at DePauw. The board quickly complied with his wishes, ending the university's second experience with student military training in peace time. On the whole, both the university and church constituency came to the support of the president in this matter against his many detractors in other quarters.

Oxnam was also eager to continue the work of his predecessor, President Murlin, in reorganizing and strengthening the university's administration. When Post retired from the deanship in 1930, Murlin elevated William M. Blanchard to dean of the university. Blanchard had been assisting Dean Post since 1927. Blanchard also acted as director of admissions, though much of the work of reviewing transcripts and the like fell to an enlarged registrar's office, headed first by Vera Worth and, after her marriage to the widowed dean in 1933, by her assistant, Veneta J. Kunter. Also active in admissions decisions was the secretary of the Rector Scholarship Foundation, Henry B. Longden.

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