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‘Celebrating the Transformation of Old Main’ Convocation

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wofford holds special convocation Feb. 20 to reopen Main Building 

President Benjamin B. Dunlap addresses the audience at the 'Celebrating the Transformation of Old Main' convocation.Wofford Board Chairman Tommy Brittain participates in the 'Old Main' convocation. SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College held a special convocation on Tuesday, Feb. 20, to mark the reopening of the newly renovated and restored Main Building, the centerpiece and foundation of campus.

“Celebrating the Transformation of Old Main” was held in the historic Leonard Auditorium on the second floor of Main Building.  President Benjamin B. Dunlap gave the address to a packed house filled with faculty, students, staff, donors, alumni and the board of trustees.

More than 1,200 donors contributed to the Main Building project.  A private, invitation-only event was held on Monday evening for donors and Wofford’s Board of Trustees to celebrate Old Main’s transformation.

“How do you thank someone who rescues your most precious legacy and bears it into the future?  Wofford’s historic Main Building has been renovated at least three times before, on each occasion in keeping with the needs and technologies of the period,” says Dunlap.  “This time the task was even harder, for we sought to preserve and restore while updating the building’s uses for the 21st century, maintaining its original function as the college’s largest and most frequented  classroom building.  To accomplish that task required a lot of money, artistry and tact, and, of the many to whom we owe thanks, it is most especially the donors — more than 1,200 of them in all — whose devotion we celebrate.”Perkins-Prothro Chaplain Ron Robinson greets the audience at the Old Main convocation. 

Throughout its history, every Wofford graduate has attended classes and assemblies in the historic building.

Over the past 10 years, more than $8 million has been used toward upgrades, renovations and restoration projects in Main Building.  Exterior work that involved renovations to the stucco and French drains were completed from 1999 to 2001, costing $600,000.  A new central campus heating, ventilation and air conditioning loop, which includes Main Building along with Shipp and DuPre residence halls, was completed in 2001, at a cost of $1.2 million.

Major interior renovations and restoration took place in Main Building in two phases beginning in April 2005, with the West Wing classrooms and faculty offices being completed in February 2006 at a cost of $1.7 million.  That phase also included adding an elevator and renovation of Mickel Chapel.

Work in Leonard Auditorium included the addition of state-of-the-art sound, audio-visual screens, lights and controls, in addition to an expansion of the stage area and installation of wooden pews reminiscent of the turn-of-the-century building.  These renovations, completed in the summer of 2006, cost $3.2 million.Faculty members listen intently. 

The renovation of the classrooms and faculty offices in the East Wing of Main Building was completed in November 2006, at a cost of $2.2 million.  These areas were reoccupied by the beginning of the spring 2007 semester.

“As we celebrate the fourth incarnation of Main Building, we realize more than ever the new demands that will be made on it, and on Wofford,” says Dr. Don Fowler, a 1957 Wofford graduate and special assistant to the president for marketing and communications.  “Wofford is prepared – Old Main is prepared – for the challenges of the 21st century.

“Main Building is more beautiful than ever,” Fowler adds.  “Its twin towers remind us of the stability of the faith, ingenuity and scholarship of its founders, its trustees, its faculty and its students through 150 years.  Its heart and soul are the same, but its technologies, its structure and its functionality have been expanded and strengthened.”

McMillan Smith & Partners Architects in Spartanburg were the architects for the project, with Donnie Love as the project director.  Trehel Corp., headed by president and owner Neal Workman, a 1969 Wofford graduate, was the contractor.  Sub-contractors included C.J. Compton, plumbing; McGee Heat & Air, mechanical; and J. Frank Blakeley, electrical.