Renovations took place last fall in the basement lobby of the all-women freshman residence hall to transform an underutilized area with water damage into a community gathering place.
“It has really become a much more dynamic place for students to gather and programming to take place,” said Residence Life Director Anthony Donovan. “These are things as simple as students now being able to use a projector to practice presentations and also to hang out and have a movie night.”
The basement has new carpet, paint, furniture, kitchen cabinetry and appliances as well as a projector and sound system; in the common area track lighting illuminates art work of six residents. The renovations cost the University about $14,000, and maintenance facility staff did some of the work to keep costs down.
“We wanted to get the students really involved in the space and have them take ownership of the space,” said Heron Residence Director Shanna Carmack. Students traced one-yard swatches of fabric using a simple sewing pattern, cut and pinned together 20 seating cushions during the fall semester. Carmack sewed them during winter break. The residents even picked out the colors and furniture. Now there is seating for 48 people between the cushions and couches.
“It doesn’t feel like a basement anymore, it feels like a warm and inviting space,” she said. “I haven’t been down there when there isn’t someone studying, using the projector, playing air hockey or hanging out. They take a lot of ownership in the space they have created,” Carmack said.
“It has added a sense of community and the involvement of residents in dorm life,” said Bailey Scogin, a freshman from Brentwood, Tenn. studying music education, who helped make the floor cushions.
The students have already had a yoga class, movie night with Pembroke Hall residents and a newlywed-style roommate game in their renovated lounge.
Located on the Quad, 90-year-old Heron Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus. It is home to 107 female students, and is named in honor of Susan Heron, who helped establish Belmont College.