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Mary Emery Building/Women's Industrial Building

Excerpt from Building A College: An Architectural History of Berea College[1]



Mary Emery Building/  Women's Industrial  Building, 1923-1924
Architects: George Gray and Clark J. Lawrence, New Haven, CT
Consulting Architects: Frederick Garber and Clifford Woodward, Cincinnati, OH
Dedicated: October 18, 1924
Cost: $70,500

Following the First World War Armistice and during December, 1918, after a year's discussion and correspondence with President and Mrs.Frost, Mrs. Thomas J. (Mary M.) Emery  of Cincinnati gave a gift of $50,000 which was to be used as "seed money" to acquire additional funds to construct a women's classroom building. Gray and Lawrence had earlier worked with College Trustees and administrators to develop a plan for the placement of various campus buildings. During the spring of 1923, the Board and architects determined the "Women's Industrial Building" would be built on "University Row". This date followed the Armistice, the end of the war and a period of economic depression, when  College funds were very tight. Emery Building would visually balance the Carnegie Library and the facade was to be of the same height and proportion  as to "form  an approximate balance to the library building" (Gray letter to WJ Hutchins,January 8, 1921). Both buildings were placed  at an equal distance from the ends of Lincoln Hall. Emery Building began as an idea during the Frost Administration, but was not built until the early years of the Hutchins' Administration. Rustic Cottage had  to be  moved  north,  behind and parallel to this "Row" and out of line with the newly proposed symmetry. Gray's blueprints indicated the new location for Rustic Cottage. Emery's placement on" University Row" was chosen to reinforce the importance of the Home Sciences and "the ministry of the home" in Berea's curriculum of education (Berea Citizen, October 16,  1924, l; October 23,  1924,  l; BCABG, 5.39, box 2). Elizabeth Billings of New York City (Frost diary, Dec, 1918) also gave generously for the construction of this building. With the  Billings gift, additional smaller gifts and the interest compounded on the principal of Mrs. Emery's first gift, construction finally began  during April,  1924.

Students constructed the first Home Economics Building, the "Teacherage", Merrow Cottage,  across the street from Phelps Stokes Chapel in 1895 and President Frost had various houses moved to different campuses to serve as "Country Homes". The first plans for Emery (1922) were too large and too expensive. To cut the costs it was decided to pare down the size by removing a large auditorium, realigning the placement, rethinking room use and using masonry walls. Building were presented to the Board of Trustees a Year later, in June 1923, and site preparation began that fall.

This symmetrical, common bond red brick, Colonial Georgian inspired building was dedicated on October  18,  1924. The building was built  to be used by Junior High School, Lower and Upper Division women. Placed between two architectural units consisting of three bays, the main entrance  is a graceful adaptation of Baroque English stone and brick work and is similar to the northwest entrance on Kentucky Hall. This entrance-way is composed of pilasters, an entablature, pediment and cornice, all constructed of finely tooled limestone. The first floor wooden sash windows are placed in blind Roman arches; brick Doric pilasters rise from a limestone base and are paired at the corners. A limestone entablature and brick parapet were inserted to support a modified Mansard roof with dormer windows. Stairs rise on both sides of the entrance door and on this ground floor three clothing laboratories, an office and a classroom where Home Economy would be taught were planned. Four kitchens that were variously furnished,  a dining room  seating eighteen, and a library were on the,second floor. The third floor housed Home Management classes and faculty offices, and on the east end were bare  rooms where class problems could be tackled. Eunice M. True, who assisted and was consulted on the design of the building, was the first Director of the Home Economics  Department whose name changed in 1991, to the Department of Child and Family Studies. This new name better suited  and expressed the contemporary needs and  courses offered by the department and faculty. The food labs were renovated in 1975.

When the Emery Building was dedicated  in 1924, Berea had six Country Homes  and a   rural laboratory,  "all [made possible  by the insight and sacrifice of Eleanor Frost". Home  Sciences were taught in these various homes. Miss Mary Sweeney, noted Home Economist, gave the principal address at the dedication ( Berea Citizen, October 16, 1924, l; October 23, 1924, 1). At the time of publication, the College has Emery Building on a short list for proposed renovation. No major work has been done on the building since it was constructed in 1924.




[1] Citation: Boyce, Robert Piper. Building A College: An Architectural History of Berea College. Self-published. Berea, Ky: Berea College Printing Services, 2006, p 74-75

NOTE: This content is reproduced here with permission of the author and is COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Fair Use access granted for educational purposes only, therefore, this content may be used in the classroom or classroom assignments without prior permission as long as proper citation is provided. For commercial use, publication, or reproduction, permission must be obtained from copyright holder or owner.

Works Cited

Boyce, Robert Piper. Building A College: An Architectural History of Berea College. Self-published. Berea, Ky: Berea College Printing Services, 2006, p34-36.

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