This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Centrepiece.
When alumni gather on campus, they often find themselves at Chenault Alumni House, the hub of Centre’s alumni affairs. But they may not know the story of the man for whom it is named, Carroll C. Chenault Jr.-1920.
As a student, Chenault was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. As an alumnus, he served as the national president of the Centre Alumni Association. In his professional life, he was president of Traders National Bank in Mount Sterling, Ky., and a partner in a local furniture and hardware business.
He was also a farmer—and made sure his love of agriculture would be passed on through grants each worth more than $1 million to agricultural programs in both Montgomery (Mount Sterling) and the adjacent Bath county schools upon his death in 1973.
Chenault married first Helen Gatewood and then, after Helen’s untimely death in 1961, married Doris. The 1,557-acre Chenault farm came to Centre upon Doris Chenault’s death in 1983. The property, which included a main house, seven tenant houses, a 98,000-pound tobacco base, and a large cattle operation, was valued at $2.5 million—making it at the time the largest single gift from an individual in Centre history.
The farm was overseen by a special committee of trustees and school officials, until Centre sold the land in the mid-1980s. Chenault’s legacy of generosity to his alma mater remains visible on campus through the Chenault Alumni House that bears his name.
The building itself, built in 1904 and now included in the National Register of Historic Places, already had a history with Centre: It was the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house from 1932 until 1962, when the fraternities moved to the new fraternity quad on campus. The College purchased the house in 1979 and renamed it the Carroll C. Chenault Jr. Alumni House in 1982. It currently houses offices for alumni and development.
In addition to Chenault Alumni House, his name continues in the Carroll C. Chenault Jr. Memorial Scholarships for students from Montgomery and Bath counties.
Thus, almost 100 years after he graduated, Chenault’s legacy of generosity and love of his alma mater lives on at Centre.
by Elizabeth Trollinger ’11