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Cover of Autumn 2002 - Winter 2003 Issue


Breaking New Ground for a New Grainger Hall

Photo of Dr. Cormier operating a backhoe
Dr. Patrica P. Cormier, donning a hard hat and perched inside a backhoe, scooped out a ceremonial shovelful of dirt.
Ground was broken July 18 for the new Grainger Hall when President Patricia Cormier, donning a hard hat and perched inside a backhoe, scooped out a ceremonial shovelful of dirt.

The four-story, 26,300-square foot building, to be built by W.B. English Inc. of Lynchburg at a cost of about $4 million, will closely resemble the old Grainger. In fact, five concrete medallions salvaged from the old building will be placed on the front of the new Grainger in the same locations. Plans call for completion by August 2003 with occupancy in the fall semester that year.

Though the exterior will look like the original Grainger, said Dr. Cormier, "inside is where you will see changes. The 15 classrooms will be wired to take advantage of the latest technology to provide a superior learning environment for our students. It will have modern amenities (including offices for 34 faculty). So the new Grainger Hall will give us the best of both worlds."

W.B. English Inc., founded in 1909, has a "strong reputation in the area of historic restoration and creation," Dr. Cormier noted. The firm will be working from construction documents designed by Moseley Architects of Virginia Beach.

Photo of Dr. Cormier operating a backhoe

Photo of President Dr. Cormier being interviewed by local television media Longwood President Dr. Patrica P. Cormier handles both a backhoe and local television media for the Grainger Hall groundbreaking ceremony.

The original Grainger, which dated to 1903, survived the Great Fire of 2001 but had to be razed last fall due to extensive water, smoke and collateral damage to its infrastructure. It was named in 1967 for Dr. James Moses Grainger (1879-1968), who taught English at Longwood from 1908 to 1950 and chaired the department for all but the first two years.

"We have been waiting for this day for a very long time," said Dr. Cormier. "It seems only appropriate that it should come in July 2002 ­ the same month that Longwood became Longwood University. With the turning over of the earth for the reconstruction of Grainger Hall, we are beginning a new page in the history of Longwood University."

Dr. David Cordle, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Ann Baise, rector of the Board of Visitors, also spoke during the ceremony, which was attended by about 100 people, including six other members of the Board of Visitors and Audrey Powell, president of the Longwood Foundation.

The original Grainger Hall was completed in 1903 and was named then the "West Wing." The State Normal School Catalogue for 1902-3 described the new building in glowing terms:

"On the ground floor there are six large classrooms. On the second floor there are six rooms used by the training school with adjustable desks. The principal's office and a nature study room are also on this floor. On the third floor is the library and reading room and three class rooms. On the fourth floor is a well furnished infirmary, thoroughly sanitary in its appointments, in addition to dormitories."

The New Grainger Hall will live up to the legacy of its namesake.

Later this fall, Longwood will begin construction of the Ruffners and the Rotunda ­ with a design based upon the original archival blueprints obtained from Richmond. Construction has also begun on Brock Commons, a beautiful pedestrian promenade that will become a focal point for Longwood, uniting one end of the historic campus with the other. And Longwood will soon unveil plans for a new state-of-the-art science building to be built on the corner of Griffin Boulevard and High Street, adjacent to Jarman Auditorium.

Dennis Sercombe