In Recognition of an Architectural Gem,
In recognition of the architecture and history represented by Norrington Hall, Park University has launched a campaign to restore the building’s signature feature — its windows. The campaign, “Windows of Opportunity,” will enable the University to replace all 67 windows with windows that meet new environmental standards, preserve the building’s architectural integrity and are energy-efficient. When complete, the “Windows of Opportunity” campaign will honor the original design of the building as a place of light and learning. And, true to the spirit of the original benefactor, the Carnegie Corporation, this campaign offers an opportunity for friends and alumni to join in making a difference in the future of Park University.
Park Seizes the Day
In 1902, Lowell McAfee, chairman of the faculty at Park University, learned that the Carnegie Corporation was considering expanding its philanthropic public library program to libraries on college and university campuses. Park lacked a library building, and the books it owned — every one of them donated — were housed in two rooms in Mackay Hall. In spite of a vigorous letter-writing appeal, McAfee’s efforts were rebuffed. Two years later, as president of Park, McAfee received $15,000 from the Carnegie Corporation — good news, but a far cry from his $35,000 request. Undeterred, Park officials decided to build the library in stages and construction began. Park’s Carnegie Library opened its doors in 1908 although the building was smaller than envisioned and seemed largely unfinished.
The Dream Is Realized
In 1921, Park’s third president, Dr. Frederick W. Hawley, appealed to the Carnegie Corporation, this time for $50,000 to complete the library. In the waning days of its landmark library program, the Carnegie Corporation awarded Park the full amount. The enlarged library debuted in 1923, featuring a marble-floored lobby, a three- story stack room, a large reference room, a new reading room and a balcony. Like many other Carnegie buildings, the architectural style of Park’s library is eclectic. The window patterns, arches and cornices convey a sense of stateliness while the rusticated limestone façade speaks of economy. Dozens of windows of various shapes and sizes line the building, rewarding scholars with views of the Park campus and surrounding community.
A New Name and a New Purpose
In 1988 the library was relocated to an underground facility where climate control could ensure cost-effective, long-term preservation of materials. And on October 15 of that year, “The Library” was rededicated as Norrington Hall in honor of Elmer H. Norrington, a Park graduate who served for 20 years on the Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Rubye, had bequeathed more than $2 million to Park. While no longer a library, Norrington Hall has remained central to Park’s mission with its focus on student services. Norrington is one of the first buildings that prospective students encounter. Unfortunately, the first impression created by Norrington Hall is not Park’s best. The paint on the window frames is peeling and the wood sashes are beginning to decay.
At the Crossroads
As cultural icons, the buildings at Park University give students and visitors a sense of place and a perspective on the world at large. Their style, ornamentation and the stories behind their construction provide us a tangible connection to the tenacity and foresight of those who came before us. Now is a unique opportunity for friends and alumni to step forward to safeguard this historical treasure for those who will follow in our footsteps.