Construction on Prentice Gate Nears Completion
Construction on a university landmark, Prentice Gate, will soon be finished. Since the 2008 Fall Semester, efforts have been made to shift the gate away from the corner of Lincoln and Main streets. The landmark has sustained damage from road salt over the years after Main Street was widened.
Michael Bruder, director of design and construction for the university, says completion of the project is weather-dependent. Once spring weather arrives, a concrete walkway will be completed and the area landscaped.
In addition to re-constructing the gate, a new Kent State University sign was built in front of it.
The gate was originally built in 1935 and named in honor of May Prentice. Prentice was the first woman hired to serve on the faculty in 1912. During her time at Kent State, she held the positions of director of teacher training and director of elementary practice teaching.
Prentice’s great-great niece, Alice Cone, an instructor in the Department of English, says she remembers, as a young child, visiting the university’s campus and Prentice Gate. Cone says those trips to Kent made her want to attend the university because she liked the atmosphere of the school and town.
Cone says the gate is “a nice connection” to her great-great aunt.
Prentice began her teaching career at the age of 16. After years of teaching in schoolhouses, she worked at the Cleveland City Normal School where John McGilvrey, Kent State’s first president, served as the principal. Prentice worked as his assistant for nine years. When McGilvrey left Cleveland Normal to work at the Western Illinois State Normal School, Prentice left with him.
She earned her degree in education from Western Illinois and became the school’s director of primary teaching. While working at Western Illinois, McGilvrey asked her to come to Kent State.
Prentice retired in 1930. In 1934, trustees decided to build a gateway on the front campus and name it in her honor. Members of graduating classes from 1928 through 1934 contributed funds. The gate cost $2,200, which would equate to approximately $35,000 today.
The newly positioned Prentice Gate uses portions of the original structure, including its steel arch and bronze seal.
“I think my father and family members would be glad to know they’re taking care of the gate,” Cone says.
A re-dedication ceremony for the gate will be held in the fall around homecoming. Cone says she plans to attend and will bring her surviving aunt — Prentice’s great-niece, Harriet — with her.
By Lindsay Kuntzman