Designed and built by The Austin Company of Cleveland, Ohio, the Kettering Hall of Science was completed in 1961 to house the Oberlin College departments of Biology and Chemistry. It was named for the late Charles F. "Boss" Kettering, renouned automotive engineer and inventor, and its cost of approximately $2,800,000 was met by gifts from Oberlin alumni, friends of the College, corporations and philanthropic foundations. The Charles F. Kettering Foundation gave $800,000, the largest single gift.
According to a dedication booklet, Kettering met admirably an urgent College need. It was also a tribute to what has been called Oberlin's remarkable record of producing scientists. Among Oberlin graduates have been such giants as Charles Martin Hall, discoverer of the electrolytic process of manufacturing aluminum, Robert Al Millikan, Nobel Proze-winning physicist, and more than 540 men and women listed at the time in "American Men of Science." Over a 40-year period from 1920 until 1960, slightly more than 28 per cent of all Oberlin undergraduates majored in the natural sciences.
Today, the Class of 1904 Science Library and the eastern half of the building have been removed.The western half of the building, which housed the biology classrooms, laboratories, and offices was incorporated into the new Oberlin Science Center.