By Linda Lockhart
Harley H. Haning became treasurer of Ohio University in 1906, the same year the Athens Post Office took up residence in a new three-story building on West Union Street. The two later came together for posterity.
The university purchased the building in 1964 and renamed it Haning Hall two years later in honor of the administrator, who retired in 1923. Earlier this week, his great-nephew returned Haning's image to the building.
James Hanning -- the spelling was changed over the generations -- was a history major at Ohio State when he was assigned to research his family's roots. Despite graduating, he continued to follow the family trail that led to Athens.
Hanning's family has lived in Dayton for four generations, since his great-grandfather, Herbert Haning, established a medical practice there. According to Hanning's research, Herbert and his brother Harley grew up on a Meigs County farm and both attended Ohio University. Harley graduated in 1894 and went on to become a prominent Athens businessman. He later assumed the duties of general manager and treasurer at his alma mater, a position he held for 17 years.
As part of his research, Hanning eventually visited Haning Hall, which now houses the offices of Lifelong and Distance Learning. Finding no likeness of the building's namesake, and since his family had several professional photos, he contacted the university with an offer to donate one of the portraits.
Director of Lifelong and Distance Learning Marsha Ham and Charles Bird, vice provost of University Outreach, hosted a small reception this week to celebrate and accept the portrait.
About 20 people from University Outreach gathered to welcome Hanning and his father, William, who shared family photos, history and mementos.
"This event meant a great deal to us," James Hanning said. "It is because of things like this that make genealogical study and research worthwhile."
Historical ties between the Office of University Outreach and Harley Haning's era extend beyond the building in which employees work.
"We appreciate the family's generosity and are pleased to hang Harley Haning's photo in the building that bears his name," Bird said. "Harley was in the early years of his service to the university when the university's 10th president, Alston Ellis, created an extension service in 1909. Interestingly, the roots of University Outreach grow from that event.
"Nearly a century later it is good for us to pay tribute to those who helped expand educational opportunity in southeastern Ohio and to realize that we continue to offer such opportunities in ways that they could not even have imagined," he added.