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Anyone can bring home a memory from Old Science Hall

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Mabee Challenge met, construction fence up – major renovation of Bethel College’s Old Science Hall into an Academic Center is beginning.

Many large pieces of furniture from the building were auctioned in August 2008. Now, following a major clean-out effort this past January by community volunteers organized by Dalene White, Bethel College “volunteer-in-chief,” Bethel alumni and friends can have a smaller piece of “Old Science” memorabilia.

These items – including bottles, beakers, small scales, test tubes, microscopes, slides, evaporation dishes and even several radiators and a soil-testing kit – are part of an ever-revolving and changing display in Bethel College’s Thresher Bookstore that will remain through Alumni Weekend, May 20-22.

“When the volunteers did the clean-out this January, Cindy Beth [administrative assistant to the vice president for advancement] and I knew we wanted some things for table decorations, for the celebration when the building is dedicated in 2012,” says bookstore manager Mary Enz. “Then the Bethel College Women’s Association decided to put some larger items online that alumni and friends could have for a donation.”

There were still some items, however, that were too small, fragile or hard to mail to put online. So Enz got a microscope cabinet – painted “with about 26 coats of yellow paint” and too shaky to stand on its own – from Old Science Hall, covered the yellow with black and fastened it to one of the bookstore walls to display the items.

There, they caught the eye of local historian Jim Wimmer, who plans to feature the display and some history of Old Science Hall – which was erected in 1925 and is the second oldest building now standing on the Bethel campus, after the Administration Building – in one of his monthly columns in The Newton Kansan.

The display was also “a hit for Grandparents’ Day” held at Bethel April 15, Enz says. “The grandparents had a lot of fun reminiscing and telling their grandchildren what they used things for.”

It attracted attention on Bethel’s first early enrollment day of the spring, April 16, too, she says. “I’ve had so many people tell me: ‘Thank you for making it possible for me to take home one little piece of memorabilia from the Old Science Hall.’”

She credits maintenance worker Fred Unruh with being “a big help and a support for this idea, and for bringing things over from storage. He’s the one who had the idea of including the radiators. Now couldn’t you just see one of these as yard art?”

The Old Science Hall items may be viewed, and taken home for a donation, during Thresher Bookstore’s regular hours, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be some extended hours during Alumni Weekend as well.

To see what’s available online, go to

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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