The Pettibone World Affairs Center, built in 1905 as the college library and now commonly known as "WAC," has been dramatically renovated, inside and out. Some of the renovations, as noted above, include:
- The beautiful masonry on the building's facade has been cleaned and restored.
- New lampposts mimic the style of the original Carnegie Library.
- Widened sidewalks lead from the Poetry Garden past WAC to a new way-finding sign, making it easier for visitors to find their way around campus.
- Revitalized landscaping complements the work that’s been done on the historic building.
- The Crom Peace Garden, marked by this rock and honoring Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Scott Crom and his wife, Nancy, was replanted. The stone’s inscription reads: “We are one. We are connected to the whole. Each act of ours affects the whole.”
- Pavers replaced wood-plank sidewalks to form a mini-courtyard.
- A parking place for Beloiters on two wheels, this bike rack offers space to secure nearly two dozen bikes.
- Stained-glass windows were cleaned and mounted in custom-built frames, shedding light on the building’s renovated interior (interior work was made possible by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation).
- Metal frame doors were replaced with wood-and-glass doors befitting the building’s age.
If you ask Beloiters, past or present, to close their eyes and imagine Beloit College, chances are they will conjure up a mental image of campus: sunny quads, the rolling mounds, favorite dorm lounges, the basement bar of the C-Haus, and, at the heart of it all, the iconic white columns and cupola of Middle College.
The physical campus of a residential college can inspire reminiscing like no other place. However, the historical nature of Beloit’s buildings and grounds pose some very practical problems. Older buildings need careful, considerate, and frequent upkeep, and historic preservation is expensive. How can the college stay true to its architectural heritage while, to put it in real estate terms, keeping up its curb appeal?
It’s a question that college leadership made an effort to answer in 2010, when President Scott Bierman and the Parents Fund Committee began an initiative called Renewing the Historic Core.
“It was basically something that started as a means to an end and grew into a really appealing way to keep up and beautify the campus,” says Leslie Kidder’02, former assistant director of major gifts and parent support for the college, who led the Parents Fund Committee.
Fundraising for Renewing the Historic Core has annually exceeded expectations and made dozens of projects possible, from updating walking paths in the Poetry Garden and installing a way-finding sign in front of the World Affairs Center to a new entryway for the library and a completely renovated cupola for Middle College. It is one of six modules in Fast Forward: the Campaigns for Beloiters, which build fundraising efforts around targeted projects and programs.
The work initially focused on the south side of campus, but updates have been made to the north side, too, as residence halls and special interest houses have been treated to fresh interior and exterior paint, siding, new windows, and landscaping.
Besides the visual improvements, these projects have spurred other groups to take action. Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity worked to clean up its house and get new flags at the front door, a move that fraternity President Patrick Cook’14 said was directly inspired by the work the TKE brothers saw on College Street. “The house in general looks amazing, and the work done with the Renewing the Historic Core fund is incredible,” he says. “We’ve ordered new flags ourselves and are cleaning our entire house and attic, because we honestly feel inspired to do it and mirror the work done outside the house.”
Below, you can see some of the changes that have been made possible thanks to the Renewing the Historic Core Fund.
Richardson Auditorium in Morse-Ingersoll Hall was updated in the summer of 2013—along with other areas of Morse-Ingersoll Hall, inside and out. The auditorium, which serves both as a classroom and frequent event space, received updated technology, new carpet, and fresh paint and fixtures. Photo by Jishnu Guha'13.
In the fall of 2011, the iconic cupola, placed in 1939, got some major (and much-needed) renovations—the highest accessible point on campus hadn’t been refreshed in more than 70 years. The wood structure was rebuilt, while detailed lattices and railings were replaced with longer-lasting synthetic material. The copper roof and steel spire were also replaced. In the summer of 2012, Middle College’s portico was extended by 13 feet, raised, and made handicap-accessible. The new steps are curved, to mimic the President’s House, and bricks were replaced with new, road-worthy pavers. Photo by Trevor Johnson'08.
Logan Museum (doors/east side)
In the fall of 2013, skilled craftsmen built custom-made replacement doors for the east side of the Logan Museum. Made of strong, resilient white oak, each door weighs nearly 350 pounds. Photo by Greg Anderson.
Russian House, during renovation and after
This six-resident, co-ed special interest house on Emerson Street got new windows and insulation, a new roof, and new siding over the summer of 2013. Photos by Trevor Johnson'08.
Theta Pi Gamma Sorority
Siding was replaced on this five-resident house on College Street this summer, with work completed on the trim and front door as well. Careful attention was paid to matching the exact shade of blue on the siding. Photo by Trevor Johnson'08.
To learn more about Beloit's historic buildings, visit https://www.beloit.edu/archives/history/buildings/.