Old College, New Brick

Words: Bronzella Cleveland
UGA Old College
Exterior after rehabilitation. Old College continues its role as the centerpiece of historic North Campus. ©Diane Kirkland, 2007.

Recently, I took advantage of the July 4th holiday weekend to visit my alma mater, the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Ga. I cannot remember how long it had been for me between visits, but I know it had been too long. I knew there would be many changes – both on the campus and in the city of Athens. I was prepared to see national restaurant chains in downtown Athens where local businesses once stood. I was prepared to see new buildings on UGA's campus; in fact, I already was aware of many. However, what I wasn't prepared for – and perhaps I should have been – was how beautiful I would find the architecture on campus – especially the older buildings. Certainly, I remember all of the buildings from my time as a student, particularly in the "North Campus" area where the school's first buildings were constructed. But as a student I never took the time to really notice the amazing brick buildings at UGA. In fact, I doubt many students take notice.

As I walked around North Campus that day, recalling days and nights at the main library, my work/study time at the Law School during my freshman year, and more, I also remembered that in 2008 I wrote an article for Masonry Design about the renovation of Old College, which is the first building constructed on the campus. The project began in 2006 as part of school's celebration of the bicentennial of its first building, originally known as Franklin Hall. The building, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, was modeled after Connecticut Hall at Yale University. During its many years of service, this brick-clad, 21,000-square-foot facility has undergone several renovations. One renovation, around 1908, replaced many sections of Old College's brick exterior, which at the time was in a state of disrepair. Further, when the Navy took occupation in the 1940s it extensively reconfigured the interior, including removing the fireplaces, partitioning rooms, and relocating staircases.

To read all about the renovation project, visit our website. And if you have the opportunity, be sure to visit your alma mater to soak in the atmosphere you likely missed as a student. Marvel at the old and new architecture, and hey, if you have been involved in designing or renovating facilities at your alma mater, then I want to hear your story! Share your experience with me at cory@lionhrtpub.com. Perhaps we can publicize your project.

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