Cutler Hall in the background is framed by the Class Gateway, an entrance into the heart of the campus from East Union Street.
Photographer: Jonathan Adams
Alumni Gate was built by the Class of 1915 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first graduating class at Ohio University. The inscription on the gate was taken from a Latin inscription found over the main portal of the University of Padua, Italy.
Photographer: Jonathan Adams
Ohio University student Charles Buchanan writes a message on the sidewalk at Alumni Gate, a popular location for student organizations to promote their cause. The Alumni Gateway will be rehabilitated during summer 2015.
Photographer: Jonathan Adams
Apr 21, 2014
By Katie Hendershot
A $2 million capital improvement plan for high priority grounds areas will continue this summer on College Green and continue into next summer, amid other renovations on campus.
College Green, which has been the site of multiple significant historical events that reverberated throughout the Southeastern Ohio community for generations, will receive a facelift with the widening of the walkway leading to Cutler Hall from Class Gateway, as well as improvements to the Class Gateway itself.
One tentative improvement to the gateway includes a plan to add a handicap ramp to add yet another accessible entry to College Green.
“There is deterioration, there is cracking in brick, there are mortar joints and caulking that is failing and when one does not take care of that, then the deterioration can kind of get out of hand,” explained Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for facilities at Ohio University. "There’s very normal wear and tear associated with freeze and thaw cycles.”
Cracking in the columns of the Class Gateway, as well as staining and deterioration of the limestone inscription wall will be corrected as part of the rehabilitation. Along with widening the path, drainage issues along the pathway also will be corrected.
Renovations and rehabilitation of the College Green will take place with limited disruption, Wyatt explained.
Design and construction has been working closely with Event Services to orchestrate the construction timeline and help minimize summer event disruption. Renovations will not begin until after graduation and alumni weekend, for example, but parts of College Green will temporarily be closed this summer.
The University will provide advanced notice of any closures or changes taking place that might affect those visiting campus.
In addition to the College Green updates this summer, the project will continue in the summer of 2015 with cleaning of the Alumni Gateway and Civil War Memorial. The retaining wall in front of Cutler Hall also will be rebuilt.
The area between Scripps Hall, Cutler Hall and Alden Library also will see changes in the pavement system.
In addition to the gateway and paving work, there will be roof work and painting on a number of buildings on College Green. There will be utility tunnel work on the south side of the green, as well as major building rehabilitation at Lindley Hall and Tupper Hall on the east and west sides of College Green.
“It’s a normal amount of work for that period of time on the University campus, particularly since our six-year capital plan has gone into full force,” Wyatt explained. “We had every bit as much work going on last year. I think the difference is, this is the first time in a long time we’ve had this much work concentrated on College Green.
“That is just a reflection of the fact that it is a very high priority area — a lot of historical significance, a lot of sentimental significance, it’s a place that our alumni really cherish and a place we like to show off.”
The comprehensive capital improvement plan was introduced in November 2011, and specifically set aside funds for high priority areas, which includes College Green. Gradual cosmetic changes have been made to the green since the plan was developed, but construction the next two summers will include many more structural changes.
The historical context of College Green reaches far back to before the University officially owned the ground, and has served as a platform for multiple historic figures and dignitaries who have spoken to throngs of college students and the larger Athens community. It has been the site of sit-ins for war protestors, and has hosted famous dignitaries and presidents, including Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower.
“I think the green has evolved over the years just out of necessity,” said Betty Hollow, author of, “Ohio University, 1804—2004” and “Soulful Bobcats.”
Prior to the land now known as College Green being turned over to the University, the city and college were at a disagreement over who officially owned it since it was originally developed as part of the Northwest Ordinance. The land, because it was not allocated either way in ownership, was considered “public commons,” meaning that the townspeople used it freely.
Members of the city in the 1800s used the land — now used for study sessions and shortcuts to classes — as a place to hitch horses and allow cattle to graze.
The University didn’t officially own the land until the Athens County Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected. When the University agreed to care for the monument, Athens City Council turned over the land in 1896.
“The green was not a very pleasant place to walk around, I expect, and you expected to be toppled over by a pig or two, but after that, I think it certainly has been a gathering place,” Hollow said of the land being turned over to the University.
Class Gateway was a gift from the Class of 1949, who donated the materials to build a new gateway on the site of the old gateway, which was a gift from the Class of 1912. The Class of 1949 had future students in mind when they decided to update the current gate, which couldn’t handle class change congestion. The gate is intended to recognize the first graduating class in the Northwest Territory, which was the graduating class of 1815.
As the center of campus, those who walk through College Green each day are walking where presidents and national leaders have stood. They are walking on the site of a 1970 protest and are passing a spot where a temporary G.I. Bill housing unit was temporarily constructed to handle the influx of men attending the University after World War II.
“I hope when it’s done, no one will notice anything,” Wyatt said of the College Green renovations. “It’ll look the way people expect it to look. There are no great design changes planned. We really want to retain the historic flavor, but we want it to feel like it’s well kept.”