You cannot leave Hood College without warm memories of Coblentz Hall. It was and is the setting for the beginning of life-long friendships, festive holiday dinners, formal dances, and the first wearing of our Hood rings. Yet few of us know about Emory Coblentz, the man for whom Coblentz Hall was named.
For 27 years, from 1914 until his death in 1941, this father of six Hood graduates and a member of the Board of Trustees, played a critical role in the growth of the College.
In his unpublished autobiography, Mr. Coblentz wrote: “Undoubtedly, the greatest service I rendered was in connection with the growth and development of Hood College. I had the distinction, and I consider it one, of having six daughters grow to womanhood and all of them graduated from Hood.” Two are still active alums: Miriam Coblentz Saur Parsons ’22 of Palm Beach, Fla., and Helen Coblentz Fox Beauchamp ’36 of Grosse Ile, Mich. Deceased are: Ruth Coblentz Swank McCollough ’17, Naomi Coblentz Winston ’18, Esther Coblentz Englesing ’19, and Mary Virginia Coblentz ’33.
According to Mrs. Beauchamp, “He was a wonderful father and always had time for us girls. He had a good sense of humor and was wise in his dealings with his daughters.” Mr. Coblentz was a familiar figure on campus and he and his wife often invited Hood students to their home.
Emory Coblentz was a prominent banker, legislator, financier, churchman, and public spirited citizen who was born and lived his entire life in Middletown, Md. The son of Edward F. and Lucinda Betchol Coblentz, he was born in 1869 on a farm which his great-grandfather had acquired southeast of Middletown after emigrating from Germany in 1756.
In 1887, when the Valley Savings Bank was organized in Middletown, Emory Coblentz accepted the position of assistant cashier. One year later, after being admitted to the bar, he started a law practice in Frederick. While practicing law he remained affiliated with the bank as a member of the Board of Directors and as the institution’s attorney. In 1996 he was named president of the Central Trust Company, while continuing to practice law with other Frederick county attorneys, including Charles McC. Mathias and Charles Ross.
Mr. Coblentz was one of the organizers and served as president of the Potomac Edison Company, still the largest utility in Western Maryland. He also helped to develop Braddock Heights into a summer resort. A prominent civic leader, he was responsible for developing many of Middletown’s early buildings. Active in politics, he was elected in 1919 to serve one term in the Maryland House of Delegates and in 1930 he was elected for one term to the Maryland State Senate.
He was a member of the Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church, serving both the Middletown church, where he was the choir director for 12 years, and the Potomac Synod. A trustee of the Reformed Church Seminary in Lancaster, Pa., he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 1926.
In 1914, Mr. Coblentz was elected by the Potomac Synod to the Hood College Board of Trustees. At the time, ground had just been broken for Alumnae Hall. Over the next 27 years he helped to direct the fund raising efforts not only for Coblentz Hall, which was completed in 1922 at a cost of $275,000, but a dozen other buildings. At a meeting of the Board on September 29, 1922, the Trustees voted unanimously to name Coblentz Hall in his honor.
As chairman of the Building Committee, he played a key role in the construction of Alumnae Hall (1915), the first President’s House, now Alumnae House (1920), Apple Library (1941), enlarging Brodbeck Music Hall (1922), Y-Hut, now Carson Cottage (1923), Hodson Outdoor Theater (1938), Martz Hall (1925), Meyran Hall (1930), Eastview Terrace, now the Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory (1921), Shriner Hall (1915), Strawn Cottage (1918), and the Williams Observatory (1924). During his tenure on the Board the size of Hood’s endowment grew from $25,000 to $400,000, a result of Mr. Coblentz’s efforts.
It is in great part due to Emory Coblentz that we have the splendid campus and financially sound institution that we all know as Hood College. He was drawn into the very heart of the College, played a critical role in Hood’s history, and considered his involvement with the College to one of his greatest achievements. We owe much to this man for his energy, determination, foresight, and vision.