To the Alumni of Hampden-Sydney College:
The Hampden-Sydney community has been overjoyed and grateful since the September announcement of a transformational $30 million gift from Mr. Stanley F. Pauley to launch the construction of a new science facility that addresses one of the College’s most strategic priorities. Even in an outdated facility, our science program has been punching above its weight for many years; however, the Pauley Science Center will transform the education and research opportunities we will be able to offer our students, and it will be very helpful in our efforts to recruit talented young men to the College.
The initial feedback on campus about the architectural renderings and our plans for the building was overwhelmingly positive, and we shared these images and our plans with our campus community on the College’s website and in a cover feature story in the fall issue of the Record. That story included a special section noting that the Pauley Science Center would necessitate the removal of Bagby Hall.
The planning process carefully considered several potential building sites, harnessing the expertise and input of architects, engineers, builders, and members of the Hampden-Sydney community to identify the pros and cons of each option. Our site analysis included extensive consultation with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and with the experts who have helped us prepare and file our past historic preservation zone applications. Though it was proposed decades ago in a fifty-year-old campus master plan that a science facility be located on the western edge of Lake Chalgrove, that site was not considered feasible due to the challenges associated with constructing a large building behind the dam. And, in fact, two subsequent campus master plans—one completed in 1999 and a second completed in 2012—have not proposed building at that site.
Ultimately, it became clear that the location at the intersection of College Road and Via Sacra was the best option. Placing this incredible facility in the heart of our historic campus showcases our commitment to our educational mission and the teaching of science. And, the Pauley Science Center is already proving valuable in our recruiting and admission efforts. The removal of Bagby Hall also restores the historic sightline between Cushing and Venable, an intentional design element when those buildings were constructed in the 1820s.
Extensive site work to relocate utilities and prepare for construction that began in late 2019 has been completed, and Bagby Hall was vacated this spring. As promised in the fall issue of the Record, every effort is being made to reclaim and re-use materials from Bagby, and as you read this message, the slate shingles and other parts of the building are being removed. The cupola will soon be removed and we will be incorporating it and other artifacts in the new building’s landscape. This semester, three of our classes conducted careful architectural, photographic, and oral history documentation of the building.
There has been widespread support for this project among our campus community, though this decision was not made without some dissent, particularly about the building’s location and the removal of the aging Bagby Hall. We can assure you that this decision was not made lightly. While a number of temporary fixes over the years have enabled Bagby to remain operational, it illustrates the detrimental impacts of deferred maintenance, and a careful review determined that, at a minimum, an additional investment of $5 million to $10 million would be required to restore Bagby. And, even then, we couldn’t be certain that the building would survive a major renovation without extensive shoring-up of the foundation, which has been inundated by water for decades. Moreover, once we have a new science facility and Gilmer is repurposed for other disciplines, Bagby would have become unneeded space and costly to maintain.
The leadership of Hampden-Sydney is fully committed to preserving the architectural heritage and historic aesthetic of our beautiful campus. For example, we will soon begin a year-long interior renovation of Venable Hall, addressing structural and HVAC issues while also renovating bathroom facilities, student rooms, and the Parents & Friends Lounge. Cushing Hall received a similar renovation last year. The historic Carriage House on campus is also being restored. And, in 2017, we completed an extensive renovation of Winston—now Brinkley Hall—which now houses the state-of-the-art Viar-Christ Center for the Arts. We are also committed to a thoughtful renovation of Gilmer Hall once our science departments move to the new Pauley Science Center.
With any large scale initiative, the College’s leadership must balance an ideal vision with logistical, programmatic, and financial realities, and ultimately make a decision that best advances the College’s mission. We are confident in our decisions around the Pauley Science Center and are excited for you to see it advancing our mission when it opens for instruction in the spring semester of 2021.
We are grateful to all who have provided feedback about this project and for those who continue to provide unconditional support for the College. The passion of our alumni community is unrivaled, and we are grateful for your devotion. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with your questions.
Peebles Harrison ’89, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Larry Stimpert, President