Major Alumnae House Renovation to Begin

Sam Collins designed what is now known as the Alumnae House in 1913.

Part of the celebration kicking off Mary Baldwin University’s 175th anniversary year on August 31 was a groundbreaking ceremony at the school’s Alumnae House, which will undergo a major renovation this fall and winter.

The Colonial Revival, two-story house designed by architect Sam Collins in 1913 is located on the edge of campus on North Coalter Street. After MBU acquired and renovated the house in the mid 1980s, the building housed the alumni office and part of the communication and marketing department until the early 2010s. Guest rooms on the second floor were used for campus visitors.

The project will create an elegant event and meeting space, restoring the living room and dining room on the first floor of the house to the original pre-1984 configuration. According to Director of Facilities Brent Douglass, the first-floor renovation will also create a catering kitchen, two accessible restrooms, and appropriate storage space. A new heating and air conditioning system will be installed as well.

DSC_0129The three guest rooms and baths on the second floor will be renovated with modern fixtures, finishes, and furnishings to serve as an appropriate lodging facility for guests and visitors to the university.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mary Baldwin Alumnae/i Association President Theresa Cash Lewis ’99 announced that one of the bedrooms will be furnished with Mary Julia Baldwin’s bed, which has been kept in storage.

“Since the Alumnae House was acquired by Mary Baldwin [then College] and dedicated during Homecoming Weekend in 1983, this has served as a home for our alumni,” Lewis said. “Now, through the generosity of [Class of 1969 alumna] Jane Townes as leadership donor who set in motion a challenge campaign that brought us to this day, we will once again refresh this historic home as a vibrant space for alumni visiting campus.”

The front porch roof has already been replaced and the porch floor and steps and exterior woodwork will be restored to its original condition, Douglass said. New storm windows and some window restoration are also included renovation plan. Site work will include landscaping and repairing a small retaining wall near Coalter Street.

The name Alumnae House will be retained, Lewis said.

“The Alumnae/i Association fully embraces all the graduates of our institution, men and women. This house will also welcome all alumni,” she said. “It is appropriate, however, that the original title of Alumnae House be maintained to pay honor to the allegiance of all who graduated from the Mary Baldwin College for Women.”

President Pamela Fox and Vice President for University Advancement Sherri Mylott gave recognition and thanks to the donors who have already contributed to the project, including Jane Kornegay Eng ’83, who also made remarks at the ceremony. The university officials also invited others to give to the Alumnae House Brick Campaign, which will allow donors of $500 or more to see their names, class year, or a personalized message engraved on brick pavers to be installed in the front walkway of the Alumnae House.

The pavers can honor or remember a loved one or commemorate a special occasion, such as a graduation, anniversary, or birth. All proceeds will go toward completing the renovation.

Also at the ceremony, Dining Services officially uncorked the MBU 175th anniversary wines. The university partnered with Barren Ridge Vineyards to develop a Chardonnay and Merlot to commemorate the school’s quartoseptcentennial.

The interior renovation and remaining exterior construction is scheduled to begin in October 2016. The new facility will open for use in the spring of 2017 in time for the university’s all-alumni homecoming.