Friday, September 28 was one of those perfect OWU days, with blue skies, green grass, and lots of Ohio Wesleyan alumni dressed in red and black, all congregated in rows of chairs in the courtyard of the recently restored Stuyvesant Hall. Students sat toward the back, trying to be unnoticed in their hoodies and jeans and the OWTsiders, OWU’s co-ed a capella group performed, while alumni from many decades greeted old friends with hugs and exuberant conversation. This event—the rededication of Stuyvesant Hall—was a time for members of the OWU family and friends to gather together to celebrate.
“If these walls could talk,” said Mike Long ’66, President of the Board of Trustees, “they could tell about 80 years of memories of students coming together to study, learn, laugh, and live.” In its early years, Stuyvesant Hall housed first-year women. It was built thanks to the largest gift ever received in the history of Ohio Wesleyan, and the Stuyvesant family wasn’t even connected to the school.
Gordon Smith ’54 was one of the primary donors for this renovation with his wife Helen Crider Smith ’56. He described his freshman experience living in a house across from the new Stuyvesant Hall “where within dwelt the beautiful freshmen women. What a great way to start college.” He also appealed strongly to students for future renovations. “Remember this day when time delivers you to your seventies and eighties,” he said. “You will be needed.”
“Stuyvesant’s condition had detracted from every aspect of life here,” said Helen Smith of her motivation to help with renovation. Though when she was a student living in Stuyvesant, and it was curfew at 8:10 p.m. on weekdays, she knew it was important to bring the building into the 21st century for today’s students.
It was also important to maintain its spirit and sense of tradition, as everyone present at the rededication knew. OWU President Rock Jones said that students responded to the idea of renovation by saying, “We can’t wait for it to happen, but don’t change a thing.” Even 80 years later, students are keen on the deep sense of memory and tradition here at Ohio Wesleyan. “Stuy is very human,” said Iftekhar Showpnil, ’13, three-year resident advisor in Stuyvesant Hall.
Students have been very positive about the renovations. Some have said that having a sink in their bedrooms took some getting used to. Many previous residents have said that it’s very emotional to walk through the renovated dormitory, because everything is different from what it once was. But in this new version of the older building, others will now be able to create new memories like those that have made students through the decades so attached to “Stuy” Hall.
View our photo gallery from the event.