Alumnae Hall Renaissance!
President McGuire’s 125th Anniversary Newsletter, February 2022
For one of America’s historic women’s colleges to achieve its 125th Anniversary is a feat of considerable fortitude and resilience. For that institution to be one of the few remaining Catholic women’s colleges is even more remarkable. But across more than 12 decades, Trinity has demonstrated time and again that a steadfast devotion to mission along with a large creative spirit and many generous alumnae and benefactors all combine to ensure the durability and continuing significance of this very special kind of higher education.
Entering our 125th Anniversary era, a time that we are hailing as a new “Renaissance” for both Trinity and our nation, Trinity has a vision for the future that is confident, compelling and courageous. Unlike many colleges that have struggled through the pandemic, this challenging time has provided incentive for new strategic directions, new ways of teaching and learning, and transformative thinking about how Trinity rises to meet the educational needs of our city and nation.
We have learned how to do online education very well, and we have created new opportunities for students on different pathways to earn credentials in different ways that meet their needs effectively. We continue to believe that our model for undergraduate women’s education is an essential option for talented women in the Washington region, but we also have included talented men in graduate, professional, dual enrollment and early college programs. Diversity of programs, of students, of faculty and staff has made Trinity a healthy, vibrant university today, and we look to build upon this success as we head toward the middle of the 21st Century.
Renaissance: Reimagining Alumnae Hall
Even as we head in many new directions including online courses and programs, Trinity remains steadfast in the belief that campus-based education must remain central to our mission and educational methodology. There’s only so much “zooming” we can do! At some point, we really do need to see students, faculty, staff, alums and others coming together in a physical space to learn, debate, share ideas and work out solutions to challenging issues.
At the time of our Centennial celebration in the years 1997-2000, Trinity began a long and arduous quest to remake our campus for the modern age. We were so fortunate to have great benefactors who helped us to create the exceptional Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports that opened in 2002 and has served our campus and community so well. Then, in 2016, thanks to an amazing lead gift and many others, we were able to open the beautiful Payden Academic Center that has truly transformed our academic lives. These two new buildings, two decades apart, have illustrated how powerful a modern infrastructure can be in supporting the quality and ambition of the university enterprise.
Now, we come to an age when we absolutely must take care of our more venerable historic buildings. We have chosen to start with Alumnae Hall, since this beautiful historic building is the heart of our campus in so many ways. (Yes, Main Hall remains central, but that renovation is a huge project we will have to consider for the future.) Learn more about the Alumnae Hall Renaissance project.
Since Alumnae Hall opened in 1929, generations of Trinity students have gathered in its grand dining halls to enjoy meals together, study, sing, debate, or just enjoy watching the comings and goings of campus life. Faculty and staff often join in, especially at lunchtime. Upstairs, students have enjoyed the privacy of single rooms joined by private washrooms, and elegant lounge space for study and meetings.
But even the grandest of buildings grow old and dysfunctional with age. Alumnae Hall is no longer that darling of the gilded age of 1920s Washington. The building is almost 100 years old, with no real renovations aside from remodeling the kitchen and servery in the 1960s. The problems are visible to all who visit Alumnae Hall:
- A dining hall without air conditioning is impossible to use in the Washington summers; the kitchen staff cannot work in the heat.
- Pipes carrying steam heat from the boilers in Main Hall corrode across a century of use, and the steam heat is almost impossible to control; window air conditioners in the student rooms (often running in winter to counter the excessive steam heat) fail modern expectations for a “green” campus.
- The once-charming cage elevator often does not work and parts are impossible to find. Steel windows corrode and wood windows rot. Ancient plumbing in the washrooms connecting the student rooms too often leaks into the dining rooms below.
- Accessibility and security are significant challenges.
For our 125th Anniversary project, Trinity now undertakes the considerable task of not simply renovating Alumnae Hall, but truly re-imagining this venerable building to be a true campus center for future of the 21st Century, a place where students, faculty, staff, visitors, alumnae and alumni can gather in comfort, can enjoy a whole meal or a quick snack at any hour of the day, can have space for meetings and study between classes at the nearby Payden Center. Student rooms upstairs will be refurbished with more modern plumbing and electricity and new HVAC that eliminates the window air conditioners.
The Renaissance of Alumnae Hall includes:
- Air conditioning at long last! This project will install an entirely new HVAC system.
- A new kitchen on the lower level and new servery on the dining hall level equipped to prepare and serve delicious full meals and casual dining options.
- New plumbing and fixtures throughout, and new restrooms near the dining hall.
- New elevators.
- Refurbished interiors in the dining halls and student rooms upstairs, upgraded for life safety and security systems throughout.
- New and refurbished windows.
- An accessible entrance with a ramp and auto-open doors.
All of this will occur with careful attention to preserving important historic details while modernizing the comfort and functionality of the building. The project will also make Alumnae Hall environmentally sustainable, earning at least silver LEED certification.
Renaissance is Expensive
We must be honest and direct: the renovation of Alumnae Hall is the most expensive project yet – $45 million is the estimated cost in today’s dollars. We have spent two years reviewing and testing all of the costs in the concept design, and the number keeps coming to the same price tag.
How will Trinity afford this large financial endeavor?
We need your help. We are launching a $30 million campaign for the Renaissance of Alumnae Hall, and we must raise most of that before we can pursue a loan for the balance of the cost. We are confident that we can do this – our Second Century campaign closed at $32 million in 2018. So far, since 2018 in the Renaissance Campaign for the 125th Anniversary, we have raised almost that much for other priorities – scholarships, programs, endowment. Our fund raising has been strong, our benefactors most generous.
Now, we ask our alumnae and benefactors to consider new and significant gifts to the Alumnae Hall Renaissance to mark Trinity’s 125th Anniversary in the most tangible way. We ask our alumnae to consider the very name of this great building – Alumnae Hall – and we ask you to help renew and sustain her for future generations of students. We have several naming opportunities that include the dining halls, student rooms, atrium and the terrace. Learn more about naming opportunities for Alumnae Hall.
We are eager to talk with you about your interest in helping to renew, revitalize, re-imagine Alumnae Hall. You are welcome to contact me at any time (email@example.com), or contact Patrick Kellogg, Vice President for Development (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-884-9721).
We invite you to learn more about this signature Alumnae Hall project here, including the Renaissance Campaign, the full prospectus and naming opportunities, and learn more about Trinity’s 125th Anniversary Celebration here, including a calendar of events.
Thank you for your interest and your generous support.
President Patricia McGuire ’74
Alumnae Hall Renaissance: Re-imagining Historic Spaces for New Generations. As the signature building project of our 125th Anniversary Campaign, we aim to raise a minimum of $30 million to renovate this beautiful, historic building to become a modern campus center that our students, faculty, staff, alumnae and alumni and visitors can enjoy.
Trinity Media Contact: Ann Pauley, Media Relations, email@example.com