By Gresham Redman
In the past week, Sewanee faculty and students received word of a potential change in the layout of the University via an email from Vice-Chancellor John McCardell. The email stated that Guerry Hall was currently under consideration to become the new location of the School of Theology.
Guerry Hall was built in the early 1900s, and actively serves as the location of the Politics and Music departments at the University.
McCardell stated that the renovations of Guerry would not only include the movement of the School of Theology to a more centralized location, but the remodeling of “the auditorium in Guerry Hall as a 21st-century performance hall.”
In the email stated, “Although we have most of the funds to accomplish the proposed work outlined in the planning study, additional funds will need to be raised and a sequence of work developed so that the project can be completed with minimal disruption to the University community.”
This potential move seeks to fulfill the University’s goal of integrating the School of Theology into central campus, making St. Luke’s Chapel the home of the School of Theology’s worship. These plans have been outlined since 2015, though beyond choosing potential sites, little action has been taken to move the School of Theology from Hamilton Hall.
The plan details renovations designed by Murphy, Burnham, & Buttrick Architecture firm, headquartered in New York City. They have a large portfolio including renovations of gothic architecture such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and renovations of academic buildings for Appalachian State, Princeton, and other institutions.
Without a definite location, there is no schedule for the implementation of these plans, nor have the architectural firm released any draft blueprints.
By bringing the School of Theology to the main campus from its home on Tennessee Avenue, the Board of Regents hopes to integrate Theology students into the general life of the University, while allowing Theology students to access McClurg dining hall and DuPont Library. It also hopes for “better integration and closer affiliation with the faculty and students of the College of Arts and Sciences” according to School of Theology Dean Bishop Neil Alexander, this will bring the campus closer to the ideal of EQB.
Due to the large scale of this endeavor, there are no present plans for renovation and a definite choice of location for the School of Theology has not been chosen. As of now, there are no platforms for community commentary on the campus move or timeline for when the planning phase will end and the execution phase will begin. The change to the layout of campus will dramatically impact dynamic of university life, but Bishop Alexander is confident that “they will be university facilities and continue to get a great deal of use.”