The renovations to the Gault Schoolhouse, formerly the Gault Family Learning Center, are going according to plan, with the changes set to be completed by July and ready for the 2014-15 school year.
The 3.3-acre property across from Drug Mart on Beall Ave. was transferred to the College at no cost earlier this year following a decision made by the trustees of the Learning Center, who cited spending cuts and program service realignment as their rationale. While the building may seem far from the center of campus, the new dorm is roughly as far from Lowry as the Henderson Apartments, the northern-most housing option available to students.
The Schoolhouse will house just over 70 students and will be the second dorm on campus to feature suite-style rooms. Each suite will feature a large common area, a bathroom, a kitchenette and three or four bedrooms.
All of the bedrooms have lofted beds at about five-and-a-half feet with a closet underneath. Students will have swipe access to the suite and a hard key for their actual rooms.
The bedrooms are a mix of singles and doubles, but only a mockup single was in place for the Sept. 18 open house. The singles are slightly smaller than than the smallest rooms in Armington or Stevenson and don’t feature much in the way of space beyond room for a desk. The smaller room sizes are compensated for by the cavernous size of the common areas of the suites, which were once used as classrooms.
The dorm will feature all of the standard amenities, in addition to being one of a handful of buildings on campus to have air conditioning. The renovations will also keep much of the current architecture in place, especially the original brick entry way in the foyer of the building. The wide hallways will be used to form lounge areas, creating more informal space than many of the current dorms on campus.
Dean of Students Kurt Holmes expressed admiration for the building, calling it a “beautiful space” and said that he hopes to keep as much of the original structure intact as possible. Holmes also recognized the generosity of this gift, which allowed the College to address housing problems without having to build a completely new dorm.
The Gault Schoolhouse is intended to be upperclassmen housing and will be featured in next year’s standard room draw. Holmes expects the dorm to fill up quickly, but also said he could imagine seniors continuing to live closer to the heart of campus and around the quad. It is currently unknown whether students will apply individually or in groups.