What is a Legacy?
An Appreciation of Beegle Hall at Seattle Pacific University
A ghost saunters in the corner of room and reminisces about his legacy. The ghost never thought that he would be remembered through a building, having been a humble man, he never thought he would have been remembered at all. Nonetheless, this ghost could not imagine a better way to be remembered or to spend his time. The tired and trite wraith is moved by the symphonic sounds that seem to flow effortlessly from the dilapidated building. This ghost is Burton L. Beegle (1892–1960), the very same person Beegle Hall at Seattle Pacific University is named after. Beegle led an interesting and humble life, as depicted through his service to the school, and his legacy and presence, which is still felt here on campus today.
Situated behind and between Crawford music hall and McKinley auditorium, Beegle Hall stands on its own, hidden from view, encompassed in the background of a large tree covered in foliage and a colorful totem pole telling its own tale. The building itself is two stories tall, a neutral beige in color, and reflects an industrial feel from another era. Along one side of the building in the back, a large windowed garage door takes the place of entire wall. The front of the building is fixated with two sets of glass double doors, each set separated by roughly 20 feet in length. Between the sets of double doors are three long windows that open from the inside, and open in a “swing-style” manner. Through the main set of double doors is a small foyer of about 10 feet. In the foyer is an outdated bench to the right. At the far end of the bench is a doorway that leads to a set of rickety stairs flowing up to the second level. On the second level, there is one large classroom filled with bleachers on which old and dusty desks are placed. The wall in the front of the classroom displays an oversized forest green chalkboard, covered in dust from millions of dollars and 50 years’ worth of knowledge. Also located on the second floor are several offices and smaller classrooms used for private lessons.
Back down the stairs and into the foyer is yet another set of double doors. Through those doors leads into the main room used in the building; the rehearsal room of the wind ensemble and the orchestra. This room can be found often filled with the most
beautiful sounds of success as well as the most trying failures of practice and missed notes, leaving the most impactful chords with something to be desired. Directly connected to this room, just as a closet might be, is a locker room for keeping instruments safe and holding obscure percussion instruments used only every once in a blue moon.
Next to the locker room is the music library, filled with thousands of pieces of music of every genre and emotion-eliciting type imaginable. This often terribly lit room is filled with the musty stench that only old and well-loved paper could bring. Shelves upon shelves, stacked from the floor to the ceiling, filled with pieces of music from composers unheard of to most of the public. The main room is filled with light from the swing style windows. The room itself is not terribly sizable, only the size of two average classrooms. Albeit its average size, the tall double story high ceiling seems to make the room appear much larger, as well as producing an incredible reverberation of sound from the many instruments played daily in this room. The neutral color pallet offered supports the ideal of a blank canvas, readily available for any musician to work with as they please. The scent of the room is never pleasant, perhaps mixed with the ever-present anxiety of college students and the stench of the stale air of the instruments. The aura of the room and the building is filled with anticipation and support to any group, promising to comfort and surround those with what they need.
Although Beegle Hall can be appreciated by any person, it has special significance to my life. As an intended music major and someone who has been playing the clarinet for over 8 years, I spend a large amount of time in any one of the music buildings. Beegle Hall may not hold the most frequently used practice rooms as Crawford Hall does, where most my time is spent, but it does, however, provide the location where ensemble rehearsals are held. Beegle Hall is important to me as a music student at Seattle Pacific University because it allows me to truly express myself with other like-minded people.
Beegle Hall is a place used every day by many music students, including myself. This is a room where ensembles gather together to rehearse as a unit. Beegle Hall provides a sense of community to music majors, music minors, and any music students. It provides a space to forget all the stresses of the life, and focus on music completely, working as a group to accomplish a goal, learning leadership and how to work with others. Though the music and people provide those opportunities, none of it would be possible without being afforded a place to gather such as Beegle Hall. Beegle Hall is a gracious gift and necessary part of any music student’s life on campus at Seattle Pacific University because no concert, recital, or jury would be near as magnificent without it.
Beegle Hall has an interesting history. Built in 1952, it started out as the industrial arts program building and later moved to become a part of the music program. Beegle Hall was named after Burton L. Beegle, a mathematics professor at Seattle Pacific College for 36 years who retired in 1957. Beegle Hall stands in memorandum of Beegle and his service to the school and unique teaching styles. Beegle was also a member of the Board of Trustees and an original trustee and President of the Alumni Association. Beegle started the alumni association during WW2 to keep track of and remember the male students at SPC serving in the war. Beegle also coached a sports team to keep physical education and activity alive at SPC. A very accomplished man and professor, Beegle was given an honorary Doctor of Science Degree upon his retirement in 1957 and even had a biography published about him, Minimum Regrets by Rachel L. Beegle.
Although Burton L. Beegle was a very generous man who gifted his time, he did not participate in philanthropy in the usual way through a donation of money. Beegle Hall was named after Beegle (McNichols)because of all that he had contributed to the school, including his Trustee commitments and teaching time. Beegle never even taught music, or had anything to do with the music department, so it’s odd that Beegle Hall was named after him. Of course, Beegle Hall didn’t start out as a gift to the performing arts, but nonetheless, the industrial arts were never affiliated with Beegle either. Perhaps it was simply the timing, the timing that the hall was built and the timing that Beegle retired, just so happened to coordinate, or maybe just a halfhearted attempt at an elaborate thanking gesture. While I could not ascertain the true reasons of why Beegle Hall in its specificity was named after Beegle, it is in itself a true gift, even if the story sounds crazy.
Burton L. Beegle was an accomplished man who gave a lot to the community around him and set precedence for life on campus still felt today. Through his actions, he left a legacy in the form of unique philanthropy, in which Beegle Hall is named after. Beegle’s life of dedication left the SPU campus with a beautiful gift appreciated by many students today, even if they are unaware of the impact that his life had on theirs. Although Beegle’s life and legacy are lived on in a truly fascinating way, the efforts and gift of Beegle Hall are much appreciated on campus today.
McNichols, Donald. Seattle Pacific University: A Growing Vision, 1891–1991. Seattle: U of Washington, 1989. Print.