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Digital History at Ursinus

Bomberger Memorial Hall

Bomberger Memorial Hall, 1893-present

Bomberger Memorial Hall, or Bomberger Hall, is one of the oldest buildings on Ursinus College's campus. The building is named after one of the founders of the College and the College's first president, Reverend Dr. John Henry Augustus Bomberger. The exterior is designed in a Romanesque architecutral style and covered in Pennsylvania blue marble. The marble came from a quarry local to Quakertown, Pa. The roof of the tower is covered in iconic orange tile, imported from Spain. This orange color is reminiscent of the orange and red rooftops one sees when they travel to Europe. It cost about $62,000 to build Bomberger Hall, half of which came from the generous donation of Mr. Robert Patterson, a good friend and servant of the College as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Bomberger hall has always functioned as an academic space, hosting classrooms, science laboratories, the chapel, offices, and some meeting space throughout its 123 years at Ursinus. As other buildings were built and the needs of the college changed, different departments moved in and out of Bomberger Hall, such as the sciences move to Pfahler and Thomas Halls or the Business and Economics department move to the third floor of Bomberger Hall when it was rebuilt.

Bomberger Hall has undergone a series of renovations to keep it safe and useable by the College. In the early 1970s, there were interior renovations done to improve the function of the space, and in 1978 the tower was razed and rebuilt. The last renovation was finished in 2006, creating the first visible external change with a handicap entrance added to the north side of Bomberger Hall in addition to more office space and other facilities updates for the various departments that call Bomberger Hall their home at Ursinus.

Bomberger Hall- Chemistry Laboratory (picture)

Chemistry Laboratory in Bomberger Hall

Bomberger Chapel: Original Edition

Bomberger Chapel

In 1893, Bomberger Memorial Hall was opened to the public for the first time. The orignal chapel space and what is now called Bomberger auditorium are very similar in both size and decor. Pains were taken with each renovation of Bomberger to keep the auditorium true to the orignal style designed in 1891.

Bomberger Chapel had space on the main floor and a gallery. The room could expand to fit XXXX number of people or could be closed off to create a more intimate space. There was paneling on either side of the main space that could be moved depending on the need. 

The original seats were opera style seating, similar to a style one would find in theaters, rather than pews, which is what one would expect to find in a chapel. This style of seating had a benefit for the college; administrators could assign students specific seats for mandatory chapel services and would know immediately who was skipping and who was being good and going to chapel on a regular basis.

Clark Memorial Organ Dedicated/Famous Musicians Thrill Sudents

Ursinus Weekly articles detailing the dedication of the Clark Memorial Organ

The New Organ

President Omwake's annoucement at the gift of a new organ 

College to Receive Memorial Organ

Ursinus Weekly articles that proclaim the informal, but official annoucement of the gift of the organ to Ursinus College in 1915.

The Clark Memorial Organ

The Clark Memorial Organ, gifted to Ursinus by Mrs. Elizabeth K. Clark, the widow of Mr. Charles Heber Clark in 1916, was a 22 rank organ with a stationary console. It had wooden pipes and sat above the rostrum of the chapel. The primary function of the Clark Organ was to be a church organ. It was used in Ursinus’s daily chapel services, and for other special events hosted by the College. It was built by C. S. Haskell, Inc., an organ builder based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

President Omwake, the College president at the time, was overjoyed by the gift. He thought it would be a valuable piece of equipment for a liberal arts institution to have and Mr. Clark was a wonderful man to have such an instrument donated and dedicated in his name. Mr. Clark was a member of the Advisory Council of Ursinus College, but was better known as an author under the pseudonym, Max Adeler. He finished his career as a newspaperman, writing for a newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When first installed in 1916, President Omwake hoped that the organ would serve the school for many years. The organ unfortunately did not last long. The organ pipes and chest sat on the second floor of Bomberger Hall, the same floor the chemistry laboratory was located. In ways unspecified chemical fumes had invaded the room where the organ pipes were housed and destroyed them. The College attempted to repair the pipes and one of the manuals in 1928 before the instrument was damaged beyond repair. It was eventually replaced with an electric organ in the 1940s though the original facade of the Clark Memorial Organ was kept to give the illusion of a grand organ looking out into Bomberger Auditorium.

Organ Facts and Terms

Organs are rather unique instruments. Unlike other instruments, such as violins and pianos that all look relatively similar with similar shapes, feels and sizes, organs are each individual and unique. They are built based upon specifications made by the commissioner. Some organs are rather small, like a church organ which meant to accompany voices rather than be a solo instrument. Other organs are giant and they are built as solo instruments to play the entire collection of music that has been written for this instrument. An example of an organ of this magnitude would be the Wanamaker Organ in the Macy’s Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

At a very basic level an organ produces sound by pushing air through a metal or wood pipe. The pipes are held in place over a chest, an airtight box with leather valves that lets the air into the pipes when a specific key is pressed. The wind is now produced by small electric centrifugal blower, but before electricity, humans physically pushed air into the organ chest. The wind is pushed through a reservoir that regulates the pressure before it passes into the chest and the organ pipes.

Organs come in all sizes. The simplest organ is one rank, meaning it has one set of pipes and one tone color. A rank determines how many sets of pipes an organ has, and therefore the different tones and colors it can produce. A rank however does not determine how many keys are in the manual, the piano-esque keyboard. The number of keys in a manual are determined by the number of pipes; there is one pipe for each manual key. The first key is the lowest note possible on the organ and also the longest pipe. Successive keys are linked to smaller pipes that produce sounds that are higher pitched and therefore a higher note.

The organ is also partially played with the feet. Pedal keys are for feet and manual keys are for hands. Usually the feet have the base notes though there can be higher melodies played with the feet depending upon the pipe lengths of that particular rank. The organist switches between ranks by pulling a stop. These look very much like knobs on a dresser. The number of stops is determined by the number of ranks. The more ranks, the larger the instrument, and that usually includes the addition of other manuals. The stops and manuals are all located on a console with the pedals located underneath. The console is the physical place the organist sits when they play. Some consoles are moveable while others are stationary.

As organs expanded their pipes and manuals began to be divided into different parts to help it produce a variety of sounds. In the 1800s England there were three terms used to categorize the manuals, swell, great, and choir. In France at the same time also used three different terms to categorize the manuals, recit, positif, and grande. The French terms are the categories still used and recognized today. These are the categories that the organ manuals are divided into. The top manual(s) is recit.Recit is the swell portion of the organ. It has swell shutters that open and close to control how much sound is being directly heard. The effect of opening and closing the shutters is supposed to swell the sound. The middle manual(s) is poistif, and the lower manual(s) is grande.

Some organs are entirely mechanical, others are electric, and others electro-pneumatic. All this dictates is how the keys are connected to the chest. If it is done through a mechanism link, it is mechanical. If the connection is with low-voltage electricity traveling electromagnets then the organ is considered electric. If the magnets are control by small motors the organ is an electro-pneumatic organ. Ursinus College has actually had all three types of organs in Bomberger auditorium at different parts of its history. The first, installed in 1916, the Clark Memorial Organ, was a mechanical organ. The second was an electric organ that was introduced to the school in the 1940s. The third, which still resides in Bomberger Hall Auditorium, the Heefner Memorial Organ, is an electro-pneumatic organ. It was installed in 1986.

http://www.rosskingco.com/reference-material/how-an-organ-works/

 

Bomberger Hall- interior (color)<br />
The Ship Room

The Ship Room

The Ship Room

The Ship Room in Bomberger Hall. It was called such because the windows were shaped like portholes. The windows would not have done anything to actually light up the space inside the room. This room was in the basement of Bomberger, sitting in the center of the space. Renovations done to the basement have since taken out this really unique room. Now the main rehearsal room is in the space where this once stood.

Bomberger Hall- interior (color)<br />
Music Classroom

Music Classroom, Bomberger Hall, ca 1970

Bomberger Tower Razed

In 1978, Bomberger tower was razed as it was becoming a safety hazard. Weather had rotted the wood and nails had begun to fall out. College officials were worried that one good storm would knock the tower down beyond repair. There was a decent amount of time between the tower being dismantled and accruing enough money to fix the tower so it would resemble its original look. 

The tower is a distinctive landmark in Collegeville. It has a bright orange tile roof, similar to ones one might see in Europe, with the tiles being imported from Spain and the tower itself being made out of Pennsylvania blue marble. Since there ha been such specific materials used to build the tower, the administrators did not want to ruin this iconic feature of the area by using materials that did not match, or contracting a company that would handle the job carelessly.

Installing the Heefner Organ Heefner Memorial Organ "King of Instruments" Awes Audience

Ursinus Bulletin article that tells the story of how the Heefner Memorial Organ came to live in Bomberger Auditorium

Founder's Day 1986: A Tribute to Music

The Founders Day ceremony that included the dedication of the organ to Mr. Russell E. Heefner.

French Installed in Heefner Chair Heefner Organ

The Heefner Memorial Organ

The Heefner Memorial Organ, gifted to Ursinus by Mrs. Lydia V. Heefner, the widow of Mr. Russell E. Heefner and mother of Mr. William F. Heefner, class of 1942. She and her husband had grown fond of the school where their son had done his undergraduate study and wished to do something for the school. Mr. William F. Heefner endowed the Heefner Chair of Music on the same day the organ was dedicated in memory of his father. Mr.(now Dr.) John H. French, the head of the music department at Ursinus College, was installed as the chair. Mr. William F. Heefner was the first to play the Heefner Memorial Organ publically. He chose to play Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. It is a 62 rank organ with 3 manuals and 72 stops in for divisions- pedale, recit, grand and positiv.

The Heefner Memorial Organ was built by Austin Organs Incorporated, a company based out of Hartford, Connecticut. They are the only organ company to build organs where the internal workings are accessible and able to be seen through their chests. This is both practical and unique. The practical end is that it is easy for maintenance to be done on the organ. The unique is that it gives music students at Ursinus a chance to see the actual insides and workings on the organ, an opportunity that not many music students have. The joy from college officials on receiving the new pipe organ and the Heefner family giving it were unmatched with concerts and singing lasting throughout the organ’s dedication on Founders’ Day, 1986 (Ursinus College Bulletin, Founders’ Day 1986: A Tribute to Music, 1986).

The Heefner Memorial Organ is still living and working in Bomberger Auditorium. This past October of 2016, it celebrated its 30th birthday. It was installed with the intention of it being both a solo and accompaniment organ. It is capable of playing the entire collection of organ music while at the same time it can accompany choral voices. Once a year for the past 30 years, the organ has accompanied singers as they sung Handel’s Messiah, a winter tradition at Ursinus that began in 1938. It is a beautiful organ and its versatility has given it a reputation that reaches beyond Collegeville, being said to be one of the finest organs in the county (The American Organist, 1988). It even has a little piece of its predecessor as a part of it. The Heefner Organ sits on the same platform that the Clark Organ was built on. There is a slight difference in the color of the wood between the stacks where the pipes are held and the base upon which they sit (Ursinus College Bulletin, King of Instruments Awes Audience, 1986). For the students, it is more simply a beautiful instrument that is a part of the unique legacy that makes Ursinus College the place that it is.

Organ Facts and Terms

Organs are rather unique instruments. Unlike other instruments, such as violins and pianos that all look relatively similar with similar shapes, feels and sizes, organs are each individual and unique. They are built based upon specifications made by the commissioner. Some organs are rather small, like a church organ which meant to accompany voices rather than be a solo instrument. Other organs are giant and they are built as solo instruments to play the entire collection of music that has been written for this instrument. An example of an organ of this magnitude would be the Wanamaker Organ in the Macy’s Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

At a very basic level an organ produces sound by pushing air through a metal or wood pipe. The pipes are held in place over a chest, an airtight box with leather valves that lets the air into the pipes when a specific key is pressed. The wind is now produced by small electric centrifugal blower, but before electricity, humans physically pushed air into the organ chest. The wind is pushed through a reservoir that regulates the pressure before it passes into the chest and the organ pipes.

Organs come in all sizes. The simplest organ is one rank, meaning it has one set of pipes and one tone color. A rank determines how many sets of pipes an organ has, and therefore the different tones and colors it can produce. A rank however does not determine how many keys are in the manual, the piano-esque keyboard. The number of keys in a manual are determined by the number of pipes; there is one pipe for each manual key. The first key is the lowest note possible on the organ and also the longest pipe. Successive keys are linked to smaller pipes that produce sounds that are higher pitched and therefore a higher note.

The organ is also partially played with the feet. Pedal keys are for feet and manual keys are for hands. Usually the feet have the base notes though there can be higher melodies played with the feet depending upon the pipe lengths of that particular rank. The organist switches between ranks by pulling a stop. These look very much like knobs on a dresser. The number of stops is determined by the number of ranks. The more ranks, the larger the instrument, and that usually includes the addition of other manuals. The stops and manuals are all located on a console with the pedals located underneath. The console is the physical place the organist sits when they play. Some consoles are moveable while others are stationary.

As organs expanded their pipes and manuals began to be divided into different parts to help it produce a variety of sounds. In the 1800s England there were three terms used to categorize the manuals, swell, great, and choir. In France at the same time also used three different terms to categorize the manuals, recit, positif, and grande. The French terms are the categories still used and recognized today. These are the categories that the organ manuals are divided into. The top manual(s) is recit.Recit is the swell portion of the organ. It has swell shutters that open and close to control how much sound is being directly heard. The effect of opening and closing the shutters is supposed to swell the sound. The middle manual(s) is poistif, and the lower manual(s) is grande.

Some organs are entirely mechanical, others are electric, and others electro-pneumatic. All this dictates is how the keys are connected to the chest. If it is done through a mechanism link, it is mechanical. If the connection is with low-voltage electricity traveling electromagnets then the organ is considered electric. If the magnets are control by small motors the organ is an electro-pneumatic organ. Ursinus College has actually had all three types of organs in Bomberger auditorium at different parts of its history. The first, installed in 1916, the Clark Memorial Organ, was a mechanical organ. The second was an electric organ that was introduced to the school in the 1940s. The third, which still resides in Bomberger Hall Auditorium, the Heefner Memorial Organ, is an electro-pneumatic organ. It was installed in 1986.

http://www.rosskingco.com/reference-material/how-an-organ-works/

2005-07 Renovations

The latest period of renovations for Bomberger Hall was from 2005-07. Renovations for Bomberger were part of the “Master Plan” for Ursinus College, which was an expansive plan to further expand, update, and renovate the infrastructure of the college. For example, during this time Wismer Dining Hall received renovations, New dormitory was being constructed, and a pathway was being laid down in the middle of campus. Construction was originally planned to occur in May 2006, but, due to Hurricane Katrina coming, the Board of Directors pushed up the construction to the end of August of 2005. There was concern about increase of prices and shortage of building materials.

The architect chosen was the company Reed Axelrod. The two main priorities for renovation in Bomberger were the addition of air conditioning throughout the building but especially in the auditorium to help preserve the Heefner Organ, and the addition of an entrance with handicap access. Most of the Romanesque exterior remained intact, except with the addition of a rear entrance with handicap accessibility that opened up to Olin Hall. Other additions and renovations included: more classrooms and casual meeting space for students, Wi-Fi, a new elevator, an updated sprinkler system, and supplemented air conditioning and heating throughout the building. The auditorium remained mainly untouched and intact with very minor alterations, and the Heefner Memorial Organ remained preserved. A professional was brought in during the construction to ensure that the correct precautionary measures were taken for the protection of the Heefner Organ.

Renovations in the basement of Bomberger included an excavation of 18 inches to deepen the space for rehearsal rooms for the music programs. Music rooms were no longer split between the third floor and the basement and were completely dedicated to being in the basement. Other additions and renovations to the basement space included a faculty lounge, classroom, chaplain’s office, and a chapel. The first floor was updated to contain the Education department and Career Services will be moved from Myrin Library to Bomberger. College Communications, Study Abroad, and Project Pericles were also placed on the first floor of Bomberger at this time. More classrooms were added to the first floor as well. Most significantly a rear entrance was added with handicap accessibility. The Politics and International Relations, and the Anthropology and Sociology departments were placed on the second floor and the Business and Economics department was placed on the third floor and are all still located on their respective floors. More classrooms and offices were added to the second and third floor. Traditions that continue to be held in Bomberger are the freshman convocation, academic award ceremony, and Handel’s Messiah in Bomberger.

 

  • Ursinus Magazine, Winter 2007 ed., pp. 10, Ursinus Grizzly, December 8, 2005, pp. 2 by Sarah Keck and Cindy Ritter

 

Front of Bomberger Hall

Entrance of Bomberger Hall (2016)

Rear Entrance of Bomberger

Rear Entrance of Bomberger (2016)

Third Floor Classroom in Bomberger

Third Floor Classroom in Bomberger (2016)

Music Storage Room in Bomberger Basement

Room in Basement of Bomberger (2016)

Career Services Office in Bomberger

Career and Professional Services Office (2016)

1892 Original Floor Plans and 2006 Rennovation and Addition Floorplans. 

  “Bomberger’s dynamic new design will greatly enhance faculty/student interaction, a hallmark at Ursinus.” 

“But part of Ursinus’s charm is the way she can change her look and be continually new without losing her essential character”

Ursinus College Magazine, Spring 2006, pp.3 Professor C. Dallet Hemphill

Bomberger Hall