As the cold continues in Galesburg, this type of springtime fun seems harder and harder to imagine. This is a shot of students enjoying playing Frisbee on the south lawn of Alumni Hall in 1965. This view seems more familiar to us in February, though.
Kirk Anderson, Vice President of P.J. Hoerr, construction contractor for the renovation of Alumni Hall, talks to alumni at Homecoming 2013 about the renovation process.
In addition to buttresses supporting the outside walls, a series of temporary trusses (above) are installed through the building, to support the heavy beams and slate roof during the repair work. Below, a view of the slate roof replacement, a major project undertaken in the 1980s.
Members and friends of Gnothautii got together on a Wednesday morning to lay the mottled red granite stone, which bears a simple inscription: “Gnothautii. Founded 1848.” They filled an empty space within the stone — what we’d now call a time capsule — with several items. Among them: an account of Gnothautii’s founding, its constitution and by-laws, a list of members from the founding, a list of present officers, and newspapers.
The cornerstone was laid by Knox Professor Milton Comstock, an 1851 Knox grad and one of Gnothautii’s original founders. He taught mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy, and he also was a noted horticulturalist. Comstock was part of “The Great Triumvirate,” a name given to three distinguished scholars (Comstock, Albert Hurd, and George Churchill) who formed the core of the Knox faculty in the second half of the 19th century.
Comstock delivered remarks, and he was followed by J. A. McKenzie, a Gnothautii and a lawyer in Knox County. McKenzie made his speech without using notes.
Here’s a photo of “The Great Triumvirate.”
The renovation of Alumni Hall will involve complete removal and replacement of interior floors. Because the floors are tied into the walls, temporary steel structures — not unlike the “flying buttresses” in Gothic cathedrals — will support the east and west walls for the time between removal and replacement of the floors. Above, footings were excavated for concrete bases of the steel buttresses.
Below, an ironworker welds the exterior beams.
First, a quick reminder that Alumni Hall originally was built as three structures: Gnothautii in the east wing, Alumni Hall in the middle, and Adelphi in the west wing. Three cornerstones were laid in separate ceremonies. We’ve already mentioned one of these, when President Benjamin Harrison came to Knox for the Alumni Hall cornerstone ceremony.
Today, we look back at the laying of the Adelphi stone. There was no U.S. president at this ceremony, but still, it wasn’t exactly low-key. There was a large procession of people that included Knox President Newton Bateman and other dignitaries riding in a four-wheeled carriage, soldiers from Battery D, the Marine Band, and men from the Adelphi literary society. The newspaper Coup d’Etat described the scene this way: “The procession moved around the Courthouse Square and on reaching the Seminary [modern-day Whiting Hall], the boys fell back to give the place to the L.M.I. girls who, having been previously invited, attended in full. There were sixty of them.” L.M.I. — Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Society — was a women’s literary society on campus.
Once the procession reached the Knox campus, buglers played, a prayer was recited, and an Adelphi quartet crooned a welcome song. The Adelphi president introduced George Appleton Lawrence, an 1875 Knox grad who became a respected lawyer, financier, and Knox trustee for more than 40 years. “An auspicious day has dawned for the old Adelphi,” he said. Then he grabbed a trowel, placed it in the mortar, and adjusted a tin box with various mementos, including the Adelphi Constitution, a list of members’ names, and the Adelphi bell.
Other highlights of the ceremony included a 10-round cannon salute, remarks from 1885 Knox graduate H. Mark Gilbert, a performance of the Adelphi song, and, finally, a whole lot of cheering. There were three cheers for Knox, three for the L.M.I., three for Gnothautii, and three for Adelphi.
To protect the brick sidewalk and new concrete driveway in the front of Alumni Hall from the heavy equipment that will be used during the renovation, thick plastic sheeting has been laid across the surfaces, followed by 20 truckloads of gravel. The gravel will be removed following completion of the work.