HARTFORD, Conn. – Calling the rededication of the Long Walk “a joyous celebration,” Trinity President James F. Jones, Jr., and other members of the College community cut the ribbon spanning the Fuller Arch Friday evening, marking the official reopening of the complex following completion of a yearlong, $33 million restoration project.
Although the three buildings that make up the Long Walk were reopened at the beginning of the fall semester, the complex was formally rededicated Friday, the first day of the two-day Cornerstone Summit. The Summit, which included College officials, volunteers, trustees, and donors, was held to commemorate the finishing of the Long Walk project, as well as to build on Trinity’s momentum, and celebrate the College’s excellence with its alumni and parent leadership volunteers. During the October 24-25 event, participants had an opportunity to visit classes, tour the Long Walk, meet with faculty and students, learn about new programs, and attend athletic events.
But, clearly, the highlight of the Summit was the rededication of the newly renovated 925-foot-long Long Walk – consisting of Seabury and Jarvis Halls and Northam Towers – a complex that Jones characterized as “the symbol of the transformation of Trinity into the College we know today.”
“This project was completed on time and under budget and with great regard to the historic elements of these buildings, those that create a sense of place and of belonging to something greater than every one of us -- the school, Trinity,” Jones told the attendees who had gathered in a heated tent in front of the Fuller Arch at the heart of the Long Walk.
Jones called the restoration of the 81,389-square-foot signature complex, “the most significant physical project ever undertaken by the College.”
Designed by the architectural firm of Smith Edwards and renovated by Consigli Construction, the exterior work included dismantling and rebuilding 88 stone dormers; laying concrete pavers; installing a new slate roof with 123,000 tiles; and removing 900 historic cast iron windows, as well as 300 leaded and stained glass windows, sending them to Alabama for repairs, reglazing them, and re-installing them.
Inside the brownstone buildings, workers returned the residence halls to their original suite layout; removed and upgraded the mechanical, wiring, lighting, engineering and plumbing systems; refinished and replaced the ash millwork and casework; created new faculty offices and installed state-of-the-art technology in the classrooms; and added an elevator in Seabury.
According to Jones, the restoration involved more than 140 workers on-site each day. “All of them, from carpenters to masons to landscapers to architects, viewed the restoration of the Long Walk, preserving its legacy while creating a state-of-the-art facility for 21st century learning, as a once in a lifetime experience,” he said.
Jones also paid tribute to Tom Fusciello, Trinity’s project manager, and Sally Katz, the director of facilities, saying the success of the restoration was “a testament to [their] extraordinary dedication.”
In actuality, the Long Walk is the colloquial name for Seabury, Jarvis, and Northam Towers, which were designed by famed English architect William Burges and adapted by Francis Kimball. They are prime examples of High Victorian Collegiate Gothic architecture and have come to dominate Trinity’s 100-acre campus.
Trinity was originally founded in 1823 on the site on what is now the State Capitol. The campus was moved to its present location in the mid-1800s, with Seabury and Jarvis completed in 1878 and Northam Towers in 1883. Their design was the only commission Burges accepted outside the United Kingdom.
During the summer of 2007, while renovating the basement of Seabury, workers unearthed a stone, tucked under a stairwell, with the engraving “1845.” The stone was discovered to be the cornerstone of Brownell Hall, a residence hall and the last of the three buildings constructed on the first campus in downtown Hartford. The cornerstone has been integrated into the restoration project.
Alluding to the cornerstone, Jones said, “Its reappearance was, I believe, a sign that the good bishop approves of the growth and development of the College that has been nurtured over the past 185 years, supported by generations of alumni, parents, and friends.”
The rededication ceremony ended on a high note, with the ribbon being cut by Jones; Paul E. Raether ’68, P’93, ’96, ’01, chairman of Board of Trustees; Jared Paletti, a senior economics major; and Kathleen Kete, associate professor and chair of Trinity’s history department.