North Central College - Naperville, IL

Enduring Gifts from Henry and Annie Merner Pfeiffer

In the spring of 1924, President Edward E. Rall visited Henry and Annie Merner Pfeiffer in New York to ask for a gift in support of a “new chapel.” Henry had strong connections to North Central, having studied for two years (1875-1877) on campus before returning to his hometown of Cedar Falls, IA, to become a retail druggist. Later, he and his brother Gustavus entered pharmaceutical manufacturing and then the cosmetics field. They established their headquarters in New York City.

Henry initially turned down Rall’s request for funding. But the tides turned, perhaps after Rall visited Annie while Henry was out of town. (See Pfeiffer’s letter). Suddenly, the money needed to start the chapel project was available. The new facility was named Barbara Pfeiffer Memorial Hall to memorialize Henry’s and Gustavus’ mother. (She was also Rall’s Sunday School teacher in Cedar Falls, IA.) Annie Merner Pfeiffer provided an additional gift of $25,000 for the pipe organ. The new hall was dedicated in 1926 and became home to the school of music.

Generous supporters of higher education nationwide, at North Central the Pfeiffers helped fund Kaufman Hall, a combined residence and dining hall that opened in 1928, and the construction of Merner Field House in 1931. The Pfeiffer Reserve Fund supported student scholarships during the Depression and beyond and helped fund capital projects well into the 1950s. The total amount the family contributed to North Central has been estimated at $1,250,000, worth as much as $17 million in today’s dollars.

North Central Now Spring 2011