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College rededicates renovated Grier Hall

Barry McNamara
Flanked by President Clarence R. Wyatt (left), Monmouth students Jeren Stewart, Terreia Walker and Madalynne Bruckner prepare to cut the ceremonial ribbon marking the completion of the renovation of Grier Hall.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College formally rededicated Grier Hall Tuesday afternoon, marking the official completion of a major renovation project that took less than a year.

Opened in 1940, Grier Hall was closed at the end of the 2017 fall semester to undergo a top-to-bottom upgrade. New amenities added to the three-story, 25,000-square-foot building include private bathrooms, new furniture and dimmable lighting. The renovated residence hall will house up to 90 students.

Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt told an overflow crowd of nearly 100 people gathered in the hall’s main lounge that the College was not only rededicating a residence hall but also “rededicating ourselves to the idea that it represents ... the setting in which the magic of the Monmouth College experience takes place.”

“Grier, like all the rest of our facilities, has seen achievements celebrated and setbacks endured,” said Wyatt. “Ideas created, articulated and put into action. Friendship and love forged, tested and forged again even stronger. Within these walls is written the essential story of Monmouth College – the story of empowering young people to free the possibilities inherent in their lives, and to put that power in service to others.”

‘We shape our buildings’

That thought was echoed by student speaker Magdalynne Bruckner ’20 of Aurora, Ill., president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College, when she relayed a Winston Churchill quotation: “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”

“The students are excited for the new renovations,” she said at the ceremony, before thanking the donors and trustees for “wholeheartedly investing in Monmouth’s students.”

One audience member excited about the renovation was Monmouth student Terreia Walker ’20 of Chicago. The fall of her sophomore year, Walker was a resident assistant in Grier Hall. Now, she’ll serve as head resident of the newly renovated hall.

“When students first heard that Grier was being renovated, I think some thought that just meant the College would be slapping on some new paint and making some other cosmetic changes,” said Walker. “But they totally put a lot of effort into it, and they made it a lot better.”

Preserving historic character

On a chilly December day, Walker didn’t mention the addition of air conditioning when asked what she liked best about Grier Hall’s many changes.

“The bathrooms are my favorite,” she said. “They’re so pretty. It all turned out so nice. I’m super happy.”

Wyatt, however, mentioned air conditioning when speaking about Grier Hall’s “state-of-the-art infrastructure.” He also noted that the 78-year-old residence hall’s “historic character” had not only been preserved, but enhanced.

Named after James Harper Grier, the College’s fifth president, Grier Hall was the third residence hall to open on campus. The Georgian-style brick structure was designed by noted New York City architect Arthur O. Angilly.

The renovation project, which was the first phase of a thorough renovation of the oldest residence halls on the campus’s east side, was paid for by funds donated to the College’s capital improvement fund.

“Many, many people have worked to renew the Monmouth magic in Grier Hall,” said Wyatt.

That included the St. Louis architectural firm Hastings + Chivetta, which was responsible for the renovation’s design, and Pepper Construction of Chicago, which carried out those plans.