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Redesigned lounge, new parking lot make Bowers Hall ‘more comfortable, inviting’

Barry McNamara
01/13/2017
Stephanie Johnson, owner of Johnson Painting in Galesburg, and First Lady Lobie Stone have teamed to brighten the main lounge in Monmouth College’s Bowers Hall.

When Monmouth College students return for the start of spring semester classes on Jan. 16, they will notice a couple of big changes both in and near Bowers Hall.

Across the street from the hall, a 55-car parking lot is being constructed on Boston Avenue between Sixth and Fifth streets. And inside the hall, the main lounge has been brightened by a major redesign.

Both improvements are funded by Trustee Emeritus David Bowers ’60, former chairman of the College’s board of trustees. Bowers also made the naming gift for the residence hall, which opened in 2001.

The redesign of the hall’s lounge grew out of regular meetings Bowers has about the hall when he returns to campus.

He asked Monmouth First Lady Lobie Stone to spearhead the project because he was impressed with recent improvements she made to Quinby House, the official residence of the College’s president.

“I told him I would love to help,” said Stone, who ran her own interior design business and chairs the committee on campus aesthetics and beautification, a part of the College’s strategic-planning efforts. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and I am happy to be involved in these types of projects – from something as small as helping to select a paint color to as big a project as what’s being done here.”

Stone said one of her goals is to help make Monmouth’s campus “lighter and brighter.” That has certainly been accomplished in the Bowers Hall lounge, where 16-year-old wallpaper, upholstery and carpeting are being replaced with “happy, cheerful” colors, making the space “more comfortable and inviting for our students.”

A redesign around the lounge’s fireplace and mantle created space for a new 70-inch TV.

“It will be a great space for students to enjoy a movie night and watch big sports event as well as hold a group study or just relax,” Stone said.

Work on the lounge project has involved Johnson Painting, a Galesburg company that is a licensed woman-owned business in Illinois. That status helped the College qualify for a state program that saves money on the project. Owned by Stephanie Johnson, Johnson Painting also worked on Quinby House.

“The room is so much brighter now, and it’s not even done yet,” Stone said a few days before students were scheduled to return to Bowers Hall. She hopes the redesign work will be completed by March.

Stone said it speaks volumes about Bowers’ commitment to Monmouth that he has remained involved with the building he made possible.

“He didn’t just make a gift and walk away,” she said. “He’s involved today in 2017, just like he was in 2001. Mr. Bowers places a lot of faith and trust in the students to take care of this space, and we know that the students will live up to that trust. We are thankful for Mr. Bowers’ support of this project, as we are for the many things that he does to support the College’s mission.”

The 55-car parking lot being built across the street from Bowers hall is a two-phase project, according to Monmouth Vice President for Finance & Business Richard Marshall.

“The first phase is the lot itself, which will be reserved initially for residents of Bowers Hall,” he said, noting that residents from nearby Peterson and Pattee halls might be granted parking permits there at a later time. “The second phase is a sewer extension” to manage water in and around the lot.

Marshall explained that entities such as the College are required to “manage and control all the water that falls on your property.” Additionally, there is a mandate in Illinois to separate storm sewers and waste sewers.

“The City of Monmouth still has a lot of combined sewers in use,” he said, including the one closest to the lot.

An extension is being built to connect to an existing storm-water system, located on the north side of the College’s Huff Athletic Center.

“The City of Monmouth is paying for half of that, and the College is paying for half of that,” said Marshall, who is pleased with the win-win arrangement.

Monmouth City Manager Lowell Crow agreed.

“This is a true partnership between the City and College to address the IEPA (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency) consent order issues with storm water runoff and improve drainage during rain storms on Boston and Fifth Street and Boston and Sixth,” he said.

Because of a heavy December snow followed by below-normal temperatures, the parking lot’s completion date has been pushed into February.

“There’s a good chance that students will be able to return from spring break (in early March) and park in the lot, if the weather cooperates,” Marshall said.

When the project – which will also include lighting and landscaping for the lot – is completed, it will have numerous benefits.

“The lot increases the number of parking spaces on our campus and will relieve the load on other campus lots, making it easier for faculty, staff and students to find parking,” Marshall said. “The sewer will alleviate the pond of water, which has been problematic for residents and for the College, and brings the City closer to compliance with sewer requirements.”