School of Theology relocation search narrows to three locations

Manigault Park, where the School of Theology may be built. Photo courtesy of Sewanee’s Twitter.

By Fleming Smith

The School of Theology plans to return to central campus within the next several years, and the choice of location for its new building has been narrowed down between Manigault Park North, Manigault Park South, and Rebel’s Rest.

According to Vice-Chancellor John McCardell’s report on the October Board of Regents meeting, interim director of Facilities Management William Shealy and Jack Allin from Wier Boerner Allin Architecture presented their findings about which sites were most suitable for a proposed new building for the School of Theology.

Dean of the School of Theology Neil Alexander told The Purple in September (see previous coverage) that eight sites on central campus, all within a ten minutes’ walk of St. Luke’s Chapel, had been proposed to the architectural firm for consideration. The firm “investigated all possible sites” and chose three as most suitable, according to the report on the October meeting.

Three criteria were under consideration in selecting Rebel’s Rest, located on University Avenue where the guest house burned down in 2014, and the two spots in Manigault Park by St. Luke’s Hall as the best candidates for the new School of Theology location. The new building must be on central campus, within ¼ mile of St. Luke’s Chapel, and accessible by pedestrians and vehicles, according to the report.

The sites are not listed in any order of preference and are being considered equally, the report said. The Board of Regents will receive another recommendation in December.

Alexander commented that he believes the Board of Regents will “make a decision about location soon. It is unclear to me whether that decision will be made in December or at a later meeting. I do sense that some resolution will be on their agenda soon.”

While the School of Theology’s first location plan involved moving into a renovated Bishop’s Common, that plan changed as the school moved from envisioning a large University Commons to a more manageable distributed commons, including a Learning Commons and the Wellness Commons, which is currently under construction at the old site of the University Bookstore.

Once a site for the School of Theology is selected, architects will design a new facility for the program. No completion date has been set.


  1. Manigault Park is a shining gem of central campus. Please don’t destroy any of it in order to build a new home for the School of Theology.

  2. Look, the University is going to pave paradise, put up parking lots, and your going to like it.

  3. Manigault Park would be a terrible decision. Destroying green space in central campus enjoyed by all, for the benefit of few. So many old, beautiful trees would be killed in the process as well.

  4. A map showing the exact locations being considered would be helpful. Simply saying Manigault Park North or Manigault Park South is vague. It would help put the location(s) within the cherished greenspace in perspective. That said, I can’t imagine a place within what I consider Manigault Park acceptable. As such, I echo my fellow classmates opinion that without some context/perspective, the idea of anywhere within Manigault Park is a bad idea. And isn’t the Rebel’s Rest plot currently sitting fallow?

  5. I have no idea WHY the school of theology wants to move to central campus, but I think it is a bad idea. Parking is already a problem and theology students are at a totally different place in their lives than undegrads. Why try to mix? Central campus does not need more buildings and parking lots.

  6. The pines in Manigault Park were a gift from the Forestry School at the Biltmore Estate, and an important part of the history of Sewanee’s Domain and land management; it was with help from foresters at Biltmore that Sewanee preserved its forest (it had, at one point, planned to sell all the trees on the Domain for cash). Those pines are now a century old. While Rebel’s Rest has a long history as well, the house no longer stands and there is already a parking lot. While I too question the move of the SoT to Central Campus, please don’t let this move destroy a vital piece of our history.

Comments are closed.