Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Olive Swann Porter Student Activities Building

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Institution Name: Wesleyan College
Original/Historic Place Name: Olive Swann Porter Student Activities Building
Location on Campus: Lane Dr., west quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1928original construction Walker & Weeks
2000renovation
Designer: Walker & Weeks (Cleveland, OH)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Colonial revival (Glossary)
Significance: culture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: poured concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: shingle
 
Function:
ca. 1928president's house
ca. 1928infirmary
ca. 1928chapel
ca. 1928-present (2006)dining hall
ca. 1928-present (2006)student union (student activities, offices of student organizations, parlors, meeting rooms)
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (admissions, financial aid)
ca. 2004-present (2006)student union (café, bookstore)
 

Narrative:
The Olive Swann Porter Student Life Center is a memorial to the wife of benefactor James Hyde Porter, a trustee of Wesleyan College for many years. Mr. Porter furnished the beautiful foyer in 1942 to his exact specifications. Throughout the building, lovely antiques and paintings from Wesleyan's extensive collections can be found. The building underwent a year-long major renovation beginning in the year 2000. Adding to its existing beauty, an impressive new lobby area that encompasses the three levels of the Olive Swann Porter center creates a grand entrance. At the main floor level, the information desk and helpful staff direct visitors to the appropriate locations. One of the most distinctive additions to the building is the portico that extends from the ground floor lobby out to the fountain area. The portico not only lends beauty to the building but also provides a perfect location for outdoor events.

The Burden Parlor, a formal parlor named in honor of the late Minnie Bass Burden and her husband, Richard Ferdillius Burden, was furnished in 1942 by Octavia Burden Stewart and her husband, T.J. Stewart, a trustee of the college. Mrs. Stewart redecorated the room in 1973, and her niece and nephew, Ann Maria and Richard B. Domingos, refurbished the parlor in 1994. It is an attractive space for college functions.

The stately Anderson Dining Hall seats five hundred and is distinguished by the vaulted ceiling, large arched windows, and unusual matching mantels graced with landscape murals. The windows open on the beautiful, columned Mount Vernon Porch. The Anderson Dining Hall is named in honor of the late William Dickson Anderson, former chair of the board of trustees, and his wife, Linda McKinney Anderson, class of 1893. The dining hall is open to students, faculty, and staff.

The Manget Dining Room seats eighty. In 1964, the Trustees named the room in honor of Jennie Loyall Manget, class of 1912, director of the Alumnae Association from 1924 to 1947, and later a trustee. The dining room, exquisitely furnished and decorated, features a handsome 18th-century Waterford crystal chandelier and sconces from the Callanwolde House of Atlanta, a gift of Mrs. Charles Howard Candler, Sr.

On the ground floor are multiple spaces for student life and activities. The Reginald Roberts Trice and Frankie Raines Trice Conference Room, named in honor of Wesleyan's former board chair and his lovely wife for their contributions and enhancement of campus life, is a welcome addition to the campus. It is utilized for both college and community functions. Adjacent to the conference room is the Reginald R. Trice Recreation and Game Room. With its large-screen television, stage, and informal seating, it is used for many student activities.

The College Bookstore, which carries college souvenirs, clothing, and gifts in addition to textbooks and trade books, is located here, as are the print shop and a full-service post office for the Wesleyan community. Also included on the ground floor are the Belk Student Leadership Suites where student clubs and organizations maintain nine offices and a meeting room. Upstairs from this area are eight music rooms and a large room for student rehearsals. The Admissions Office, the Financial Aid Office, the Office of Public Relations, the Student Publications Office, the Office of Computer Support, and the Campus Police Office are also housed in this building. The Hurdle Café, dedicated in 2001 to the College Chaplain, William Hurdle, is open extended hours.

The Mt. Vernon Porch, as its name implies, is a replica of a porch at George Washington's home, Mt. Vernon. Located along one side of the Olive Swann Porter Building, it is a favorite subject of photographers, and for students and faculty to relax or picnic.
 

References:

Akers, Samuel L. The First Hundred Years of Wesleyan College, 1836-1936. Macon, GA: Wesleyan College, 1976.

Miller, Margaret. "The Founding and Early History of Wesleyan College." M. A. thesis, University of Georgia, 1935.

Quillian, William Fletcher. A New Day for Historic Wesleyan. Nashville, TN: Printed for Wesleyan College, Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, [1928?].

Rees, Frances. "A History of Wesleyan Female College from 1836 to 1874." M. A. thesis, Emory University, 1935.

Thomas, Kenneth H., Bamby Ray, and Lynn Speno. Wesleyan College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2004.

 

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Last update: November 2006