The Wright Stuff

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Eco-friendly renovation adds modern upgrades to historic building

Wright_HallWhen Cassie Joe-Louis ’16 moved back into Wright Hall this August, she couldn’t believe her eyes. As a first-year, she fell in love with the historic charm of the 107-year old residence hall and its hardwood floors, high ceilings, and large closets.

She wasn’t sure what to expect when she learned she would be living there again as a senior—after the building had undergone nearly a year of renovations.

“When I heard that it was being opened up again, I really wanted to come back,” Joe-Louis said. “It turned out I even got to live in the same room. I have a lot of good memories, but everything on the hall is also different in such a nice way now.”

Historic Charm. Modern Convenience.

The extensive renovation of Wright Hall, which included a new HVAC system, the installation of an elevator and laundry facilities, and a complete update and enhancement of the interior was made possible thanks to the financial support of several alumnae, including Susan Braselton Fant ’84, an emerita trustee, and her husband, Lester “Ruff” Fant, who provided a generous lead gift; Betty Nichols Street ’66, also an emerita trustee, and her husband, who is a current trustee, David Street; and the late Bettie Barker Delaplaine ’52, and her husband, George.

Dedication of the completed renovation of Wright Hall at Randolph College, October 1, 2015.

(Left to right) Vice President for Student Affairs Matha Thornton, Sandeep Poudyal ’16, Susan Braselton Fant ’84, Lester “Ruff” Fant, and Randolph President Bradley W. Bateman at the dedication of the completed renovation of Wright Hall at Randolph College, October 1, 2015.

The building’s beautiful hardwood floors were refinished, and the central, open staircase remembered by many alumnae as a favorite spot to sing songs to sister classes, remains. The rooms still feature high ceilings and large closets, but a modern touch is seen in other aspects of the design and furnishings.

“Wright Hall is fancy, but we can still feel the history of the building,” said Sandeep Poudyal ’16, head resident of Wright Hall. “I think improvements like these really impact student life at Randolph. These kind of renovations let us know that the College cares, and it makes us feel comfortable. And that comfort helps us thrive.”

The College designed the renovation to be environmentally friendly, and as such, has applied for to the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Silver Certification.

Joe-Louis and her roommate Riya Patel ’16, who were originally neighbors in Wright Hall as first- years, have come to appreciate the conveniences provided by the renovation. For instance, new laundry rooms were added to the first and fourth floors.

“During our first year, we had to go to another dorm to do laundry,” Joe-Louis said. “This year, we’re so glad that it’s right here on our floor, and we don’t have to go anywhere. Overall, it’s just so wonderful, and we’re glad we got to stay here again.”

Student room in Wright HallFirst-time resident Morgan Osburn ’18 said the best part about the new and improved Wright Hall is the architectural design. Specifically, she appreciates the natural light the large windows provide for her room.

“They make the rooms feel huge and airy, especially when light reflects off of the hardwood floors,” she said. “I feel that the atmosphere created by these open walls and split halls makes the students feel more relaxed and at ease in Wright. There is an overwhelming sense of security created by the interior design of the building.”

Enhancing the Student Experience

Wright Hall is one of several buildings renovated recently by the College. The second phase of renovations to Cheatham Dining Hall was completed this summer. And last year, the College opened its Grosvenor Apartments after purchasing and renovating two buildings located just across Rivermont Avenue. Other major recent renovations have included the Student Center and Michels Plaza. Thanks to an anonymous gift from an alumna, the College also completed $2 million in infrastructure improvements during the past few months.

Randolph celebrated the completion of Wright Hall at a dedication in October.

“Before we closed it down for renovation, Wright Hall was already considered by many as the top place to live on campus,” President Bradley W. Bateman told the gathered group. “If it wasn’t before, it certainly will be now.”

The support of many generous alumnae has allowed the College to focus its attention on enhancing the campus experience for students, Bateman added. “It’s important in today’s world that we be able to offer attractive living spaces for students,” he said. “Wright Hall, for instance, is one of our central residence hall spaces. The students, alumnae, and alumni love it. Everyone has been really enthusiastic about the changes we were able to make.”

Poudyal has seen firsthand the impact recent renovations like Wright Hall have had on students. “Randolph has a beautiful campus,” he said. “I fell in love with it the first time I set foot on it, and I know that’s the case for many other students. With renovations like these, it’s safe to say that the campus is becoming more and more beautiful.”