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W&M BOV hears proposed plan to expand Alumni House

  • Alumni House
    Alumni House  The William & Mary Alumni Association is raising private funds to support a planned expansion of the Alumni House located at the corner of Richmond Road and College Terrace. This is a rendering of that planned expansion.  
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The William & Mary Alumni Association is raising private funds to support a planned expansion of the Alumni House located at the corner of Richmond Road and College Terrace. The proposed $8-million renovation and expansion plan was presented Thursday to the William & Mary Board of Visitors.

The project is necessary to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly active alumni and student population, said Alumni Association Executive Vice President Karen R. Cottrell. The proposed expansion will create the capacity for up to 300 people to gather indoors. It will also include additional meeting space, a business center for visiting alumni, a catering area, and a new entrance with an expanded reception area, she added.

“Renewing and expanding William & Mary’s Alumni House is a significant step for the Alumni Association and the College,” said Alumni Association Executive Vice President Karen R. Cottrell. “By cre­ating an environment that welcomes students and alumni, provides them with spaces for impromptu or formal gatherings, inspires pride and nostalgia for the College, and equips them with the function and technology they expect, the reimagined Alumni House will become a place that truly draws the university community in — and together.”

The project plan includes a proposed 11,500-square-foot Alumni House addition that will be located on the west side of the Alumni House that faces campus and Zable Stadium, Anna Martin, vice president for administration, told the Board’s Building and Grounds Committee. Early plans put the cost of the renovation and expansion in the range of $8 million, Martin added. An additional $2 million building maintenance endowment will also need to be created to ensure that the new Alumni House will stand in excellent condition to serve the university’s alumni community in the long term.

The proposed addition, preliminarily designed by Glave and Holmes Architecture in Richmond, Va., creates a showcase entrance to campus, joining the western edge of campus with the heart of Williamsburg. The building overlooks landscaped grounds adjacent to Zable Stadium, and offers elegant rooms and terraces as a backdrop to alumni events, Association meetings, and private weddings and parties.

According to the proposal, a reimagined entrance will feature a welcoming seating and reception area that displays memorabilia from the history of William & Mary. There will also be space designated for alumni to gather. A critical goal, Cottrell said, of the expansion is to provide alumni with a home away from home. The new Alumni House will be a testament to the importance of alumni to William & Mary, and will also provide an event space for students, who in visiting the building will begin to see themselves as lifelong members of the William & Mary Tribe, she added.

“Perhaps no other single project demonstrates the university’s focus on fostering a tradition of lifelong outreach and engagement as the Alumni House,” said Cottrell. “It is the largest fund-raising effort for the Alumni Association in the university’s history and a facility that literally grew out of the success of our events, programs and services to the entire William & Mary community. We will point to the Alumni House with pride for many years to come.”

Private gifts will fund all planning and construction costs on this project. Nearly $1 million dollars has already been raised.

“Through the incredible generosity of our alumni and friends we anxiously await moving forward with this exciting project,” Cottrell says. “It promises to be a landmark on campus and in Williamsburg.”

The original structure of the Alumni House is a c. 1860 farmhouse formerly known as the Bright House, and was built on a tract of land once called New Hope. Through the generosity of many friends, the Alumni House was transformed and expanded in the late 1990s.  Rededicated during 1997 Homecoming festivities, the current 21,000-square-foot House is a careful adaptation of the historical building. The planned expansion is also aimed at preserving the elegance and grace of the original structure.