Named in honor of the Byrum Family in 1975, this Anderson University campus building dates back to 1908 when it was first constructed as a tabernacle to host Church of God Camp Meetings. During one of the Camp Meeting services within the building, the dream of a Church of God institute of education became a reality. In 1936, the building was renovated to be used as the Anderson College Gymnasium. Finally, the structure went through its last major renovation in the early 1970s when it became an auditorium for theatre and musical productions.
Backstory and Context
When the Church of God moved to Anderson, Indiana in 1906, the location of the annual camp meeting followed. For the first two years, the Camp Meeting was conducted under a large tent. In 1907, during one of the services, a heavy windstorm blew down the tent. The leaders determined that a permanent structure was necessary. Therefore, in 1908, a new tabernacle was constructed to host the annual meetings. The oblong-shaped building was constructed by volunteers of the Gospel Trumpet family with local materials.
Anderson College was born on the platform in the tabernacle. In 1917, the Camp Meeting services were unscripted. Congregants would come and go in the audience as they please while ministers and Church of God General Assembly Members would sit in a semi-circle on the back of the platform. First, there would be a time of singing. They would sing until they were tired of singing or they ran out of songs. Once the singing faded out there would be a time where any minister or General Assembly member would be able to speak at the podium. During that time, a few people made the argument that the expanding Church of God needed an institute of education. There was a general consensus of agreement on the platform and congregation. Therefore, while still on the platform the General Assembly voted to approve an institute of education. Anderson Bible Training School opened in the fall of the same year.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Church of God Camp Meeting got too large for the tabernacle, therefore another structure was built to host the meetings. The building sat empty for a few years until it was repurposed for the Anderson College gymnasium. During the 1936-1937 year, a student work crew under the leadership of Harold Boyer, himself a student, the renovation was completed. The new gymnasium was known as “The Roundhouse” because of its oblong shape. In the Roundhouse, Anderson College players felt like they had an advantage over opposing teams because the ceiling was not very tall. The arch of the basketball shots had to be lower and the Anderson College players had time to adjust their shots in practice, the opposing team did not. In reality, the ceiling did not give Anderson College a significant advantage. This gymnasium was where Jumpin’ Johnny Wilson had his extraordinary college basketball career. He still holds multiple Anderson University records.
In 1962, a new gymnasium was completed and the Roundhouse was used for miscellaneous purposes. In 1966, it got an increase in use after a fire burned a portion of the old Park Place Church— the building that was being used to host Anderson College music classes and chapel services. The increase in usage prevented the building from being leveled.
In the early 1970s, the leaders of Anderson College determined that building was too important to the University to tear down. Therefore, with help from the Lilly Endowment, they renovated the building for the last time. They created a theatre space for dramatic and musical arts. In 1975, the building was dedicated in honor of the Byrum Family who were very influential in the early University. Brothers Enoch and Noah Byrum were leaders in the early publishing work with the Gospel Trumpet Company. Enoch was the editor after founder D.S. Warner died and Noah was the operations manager. They were also the ones who moved the Gospel Trumpet Publishing Company to Anderson, Indiana. Robert Byrum was the chief architect of the Gospel Trumpet Home (where the publishing company workers lived) and of the original 1908 tabernacle. Russell Byrum, Robert’s son, was one of the first faculty members at Anderson Bible Training School. Bessie Byrum, Russel’s wife, was also a member of the first faculty.
Bryum Hall is the oldest building still standing on campus. Today the Anderson University School of Music, Theatre, and Dance use it for class space and productions. With its central location, Byrum Hall stands at the heart of campus.
Callen, Barry. The Guide of Soul and Mind: The Story of Anderson University. Anderson, Indiana. Warner Press, Inc, 1992.
Strege, Merle D.. The Desk as Alter: The Centennial History of Anderson University. Anderson, Indiana. Anderson University Press, 2016.
Anderson University and Church of God Archives
Anderson University and Church of God Archives