Huntington Hall has undergone its share of changes through the years, from its founding as a hospital more than a century ago to serving as the current home of the School of Education. In May, the school celebrated the building’s latest transformation, unveiling the Sharon Haines Jacquet Education Commons, a new event and meeting space located on the building’s ground floor. “Being a part of the transformative Huntington Hall building project has been a delight,” says Jacquet ’72, the University Trustee and School of Education Board of Visitors member for whom the space is named. “I’m glad to help open our School of Education to everyone.”
The commons provides the first fully accessible and technologically capable space for School of Education events, lectures, and receptions, and is equipped for daily use as a study and collaborative area for students. In addition, the building, located at the corner of Marshall Street and University Avenue, features a new main entrance leading into the commons space. Gone is the wrought-iron fence that separated the building from Marshall Street—replaced with a gently sloping ramp that is accessible to all. “Our new, dramatic entrance serves as a beacon to the community, announcing the inclusive, urban focus of the school, welcoming all,” says School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen G’73. “Already, the Jacquet Commons has become a favorite site for formal as well as informal gatherings.”
One of the oldest structures in the University Hill area, the building opened in 1875 as the Hospital of the Good Shepherd. In 1915, the University acquired it to advance the College of Medicine. The building took its present name in 1964 in honor of the late Rt. Rev. Frederick D. Huntington, a former Episcopal bishop and the founder of the hospital. Originally a wood structure, the building went through several renovations as it was transformed from a hospital into an academic space. Wings and floors were added with office and teaching spaces, and brick and stone replaced the wood. In 1970, Huntington Hall became the home of the School of Education.
When designing the entranceway and commons, architect Jonathan Lott focused on the concept “borders divide, space connects.” He is confident the building’s transformation will help the School of Education in its efforts to create the best learning spaces and incorporate as much of the surrounding community as possible. “The project shows a commitment on the University’s part for continual improvement of facilities, creating the best possible learning environments,” Lott says. “This particular project makes a clear statement, erasing any perception of boundary between the academy and its urban context.” —Jennifer Russo