Making room at Loyola's 'Jesuit House'


March 10, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Nearly two dozen Jesuit priests have moved from their longtime residence at Loyola College so the large Tudoresque mansion at the heart of the north Baltimore institution can be put to wider use by faculty and students.

"This is the architectural jewel of the campus," said Provost Thomas E. Scheye, referring to the three-story building. It was constructed in 1919 as a honeymoon cottage for one of the children of John Work Garrett, whose former estate is just north of the Loyola campus and was recently restored.

Long known on campus as "Jesuit House," the building will be converted to a $6 million Humanities Center, one in a series of ambitious building projects planned for the Loyola campus over the next few years.

College administrators are preparing to kick off a $40 million fund-raising campaign -- the largest in Loyola's history -- with fully half of the money going to pay for building projects.

The rest will go for endowment, student financial aid and other programs at Loyola, one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in America.

Loyola has 3,000 full-time students and 3,000 graduate and part-time students. More than 2,000 students live on campus, Mr. Scheye said.

Unlike the growth period of the 1980s, when Loyola initiated a flurry of construction projects to accommodate its larger student body, the latest plan is "much more a response to the goal of

improving quality," said Mr. Scheye.

"It does not equip us to accept one more student. We're committed to stable enrollment. We're not going after growth," he said.

The plan includes five building projects, some more concrete than others.

March 3 was moving day for the Jesuit priests, who now occupy the former Millbrook House on the east side of campus. That facility, renamed Ignatius House, was renovated and expanded at a cost of $1 million to provide improved living conditions for the priests, whose ranks have dwindled in recent years.

Work is expected to begin this year on the conversion of the priests' old residence to the Humanities Center. New classrooms will be built inside the DeChiaro College Center, and an architect has been selected to design a $12 million recreation center on the west side of Charles Street. Finally, a freshman-only dormitory district is envisioned for the northeast quadrant of the campus.

"We were rattling around in there," the Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald said of the priests' residence in "Jesuit House." "It's better for the college to use the building than for us to squander the space."

Loyola has hired Frank Gant Architects of Baltimore, the designer for Ignatius House, to prepare plans for renovating the 40,000-square-foot mansion and building a 20,000-square-foot addition to house new offices for the faculty of Loyola's College of Arts and Sciences.

Never fully open to students before, the building when expanded will contain a faculty lounge, dining room and other spaces that students will be welcome to visit. It also will house the college's development and admissions offices, making it one of the first places that prospective students will come to when they visit Loyola.

College administrators are seeking state money to help pay for the work, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 1993.

"There is a certain rightness to the arts and sciences faculty living in a building with a Jesuit tradition and a strong architectural resonance," Mr. Scheye said. "Every student, I hope, will graduate with some memory of being in that building, whether it's visiting teachers to talk about a composition or going to an adviser or just hanging around.

"The purpose of humanities is to hand the past to the future, and that building makes that kind of statement," the provost added. "I hope that just coming through that building will give every student a sense of the tradition at Loyola. It's going to be the most attractive formal space on campus."

Planners recently selected the architectural firm of Bussard and Dikis of Des Moines, Iowa, to design the recreation center, which would be on the west side of Charles Street, near where a new footbridge connects to the main campus.

To contain central mail boxes, basketball courts, pool tables, video machines, meeting rooms and other non-classroom spaces, the student union will be built where several low-rise student housing buildings now stand. However, the timetable for design and construction work is dependent on the success of the fund drive.

The college's freshman dorm district would be created by using McAuley, Ahearn, Butler and Hammerman halls and then constructing a building to replace housing torn down on the west side of Charles Street.

Although an exact site for the new building has yet to be selected, Mr. Scheye said, the goal is to have it near the library shared by Loyola and Notre Dame.

The plans for new student housing are part of a national trend in which colleges are providing more supervised student housing to assuage parents' concerns about sending their children away to colleges in large metropolitan areas.

The Maryland Institute College of Art and the Johns Hopkins University have both launched ambitious student housing projects in recent years, and University of Baltimore administrators have been contemplating such a project.

Paul Scheel, retired president of USF&G Corp., is the national chairman of Loyola's fund drive. George Bunting, recently retired president of Noxell Corp., is the honorary chairman. Michael Sullivan, head of Merry Go Round Enterprises, is the major gifts chairman.

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