Overview

The Ford Auditorium and clock tower were built in 1928 thanks to funding from Henry Ford and his wife, Clara. So as not to 'out-date' the rest of the Ford Complex, both the tower and auditorium were designed in an English Gothic theme. Its many features help exemplify its architecture. The Ford Clock Tower is very unique due to the rarity of similar largeford 1.jpg clock towers today, especially ones surrounded by an environment modeled after the tower's origin. With these elements and rich history, its visual beauty leaves an impact on visitors.

Henry Ford’s Influence

The Ford family first set foot on Berry College Campus in the spring of 1921. Martha Berry had to make careful preparations for the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Ford, as it was their first visit to the college. She had been entertaining hopes of acquiring donations from the couple in order to ease the current financial issues of the college. The Ford family, being remarkably impressed with the success Martha Berry had accomplished with the college so far, did [[#|indeed]] decide to donate a large sum to construct a new girl’s dormitory for the complex (Dickey 83). The new dormitory was named Clara Hall in honor of Ford's wife, and was the first building ever to be built in the Ford complex. After several years, its construction was finally completed in 1925. Clara Hall was originally built to house the school's female students and is still to this day a dorm exclusively available to female students of the college. Residents of Clara are often first year female freshmen while their resident assistants are typically upperclassmen. The Ford Complex has proven to be very useful to the college over the years and it would not have been possible if it were not for the influence, kindness and generous donations from the Ford family.

While Clara was the first dormitory to be built in the illustrious Ford complex, it did not stand alone for long. Just three years later in 1928, another girls dormitory was built. This building was also able to be constructed due to the contributions and funds donated by the Ford family. In addition to a considerable amount of living space, the Ford family also donated money to build the college's library. The Ford family donated, among many other significant gifts to the college, the Recitation Hall, known as the Hoge Building today, a weaving room, a recreational facility, and an auditorium. Henry Ford's charitable contributions served to build many edifices of great importance to the school that, even to this day, remain as central icons of the school's rich history and identity.

Design Elementsford 2.jpg

This auditorium, distinguished on the outside by the large clock tower, contains five levels: the lobby is on the first floor, the second floor stores drama costumes, and the third floor, now closed, used to house studios and practice rooms for piano and voice as well as a sewing room for uniforms (Dickey 83). There are [[#|wooden columns]] and railings to separate the entryways from the seating area. The balcony rim has wooden carvings, which include four pairs of human figures from the Elizabethan period, pioneer days, and a modern figure with a contemporary cap and gown. Large cathedral windows line both sides of the room. There are carvings on the upper areas that read, “Praise ye the Lord, all ye nations, praise him all ye people for his merciful kindness is great. Come let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

Uses Then and Now

Prior to Berry becoming a [[#|college campus]], the Ford Auditorium was originally used to hold school functions for the high school girls who attended the Berry Schools. The girls would assemble in the auditorium to socialize or attend educational programs sponsored by the school. The auditorium is now used by students and faculty for concerts by the Berry College Music Department. The theater department also holds performances here on occasion, and several other school functions have taken place in the building.

Works Cited

Dickey, Ouida. "Berry Trails: A Historic and Contemporary Guide to Berry College." Berry College, n.d. Mount Berry, GA, 2001.

"Ford Auditorium." N.d. Berry College. Web. 27 Nov 2012.

Simms, Kay. "Berry Reservations: Ford Auditorium." Berry Reservations: Ford Auditorium. Berry College, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.