LIMA — In January 1972, at a party marking his 94th birthday, Lima industrialist John E. Galvin turned to the host, his son-in-law Jack Crouse, and, according to The Lima News, said, “You know how to give a good party.”
Galvin knew something about giving. A co-founder of the Ohio Steel Foundry and driving force behind other Lima industries in the first half of the 20th century, he gave to churches; he gave to charities; he gave the city the land for Robb Park; and, when money was needed to purchase a site for the Ohio State University at Lima, he gave $250,000.
So, when the first building on the new 564-acre campus off Mumaugh Road was dedicated Sept. 18, 1966, it was named after Galvin. A celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Galvin Hall will be held at the campus at 2 p.m. Friday.
“In an imposing tree-shaded setting, with Indian summer weather, ceremonies were conducted on the leaf-strewn west patio near the towering five-level hall named after Lima industrialist John E. Galvin, founder of the Galvin Foundation, who donated $250,000 toward purchase of the campus site,” the News reported Sept. 1966. “Galvin was an honored guest at the dedication.”
Other guests included Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes, Ohio State University President Novice Fawcett and John Marshall Briley, chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents.
That day day was a half dozen years in the making. In 1960, the Ohio State University at Lima began offering classes at Lima Senior High School in what The Lima News described as “crammed classrooms and laboratories.” In the fall of 1963, approximately 500 Ohio State students were taking classes at Lima Senior and a campaign was in full swing to obtain a site for a permanent campus. The fund-raising goal was $365,000.
That goal got a big boost in the summer of 1963 with the announcement of a large gift from an anonymous donor. That donor turned out to be Galvin, who pledged $250,000 through the Galvin Foundation, which had been established for just that purpose.
Dr. Kenneth Arisman, Ohio State’s director of off-campus education, who had announced the donation, told the News on Oct. 31, 1963, the gift was “a wonderful thing … a very great gesture for the young people of the Lima area.”
In accepting the pledge, Dr. J. McLean Reed, director of the Lima branch of Ohio State, said: “Such a magnanimous gesture from one of Lima’s most distinguished families indicates an abiding faith in the possibilities of our youth, and a wise investment in the creativity and brain power of our students.”
On Sept. 28, 1964, a site was selected for the campus. “The site chosen is bounded by four excellent highways, Mumaugh Road, East High Street, Thayer Road and (state Route) 309,” the Lima campus newspaper reported. “Easily accessible and scenic, it has good soil and subsoil conditions.”
The next step, the newspaper explained was to raise $365,000 so the Board of Regents would allocate $3.3 million for buildings and improvement. The campaign started Dec. 1, 1964. By Jan. 21, 1965, more than $386,000 had been raised and, by Feb. 4 of that year, pledges topped $428,000. Eventually, $437,000 was raised.
“The purpose of the drive was to secure sufficient funds, augmenting a $250,000 Galvin Foundation gift, to purchase 564 acres east of Lima on U.S. 30-S (state Route 309),” the News wrote. “Approximately $10,000 has been pledged by the community of Delphos, $1,000 from New Bremen, approximately $2,000 from Van Wert and more than $11,000 from Wapakoneta.”
With the local funds in hand and the $3.3 million from the state approved, bids were let in mid-March 1965 to supply structural steel for the first building of the Lima campus. Local architect Lyman Strong’s working drawings, showing a five-story building, were approved by university officials in Columbus.
Less than four months later, work began. “In a sun-baked clearing in a Bath Township wooded area this morning, state, county and city officials turned the first spadeful of dirt for the permanent Lima OSU Campus,” the News wrote July 9, 1965. “Manning the silver shovel was Gov. James Rhodes, OSU president Dr. Novice Fawcett, the three county commissioners, State Sen. Ross Pepple and Mayor Homer Cooper.” Manning the real shovels were the workers of general contractor H.U. Tuttle and Sons.
On Feb. 10, 1966, the Ohio State University trustees meeting in Columbus voted to name the $1.3 million granite stone, brick and concrete structure John Galvin Hall. Fawcett told the News the move represented an exception to university policy, which stated that buildings cannot be named for living persons. “Fawcett added that the name was selected in recognition of John Galvin’s leadership and financial support of the Lima Branch.” Galvin died Dec. 19, 1974, at the age of 96.
The new campus welcomed more than 1,000 students when it opened Oct. 3, 1966. Today, the campus serves more than 1,000 Ohio State Lima students as well as the more the more than 4,100 students of Rhodes State College.
Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected]