Long Walk Re-Opened

 
   

The unsightly fences have been removed, the construction equipment is nowhere to be found, and the parking lots on Summit Street are filled with cars. As the spring semester begins, the Long Walk is once again operational and the Quad appears to be back to normal. “We have stabilized the situation so that there is no longer an imminent safety issue,” explains Director of Facilities Sally Katz. “We have taken the fences down and the sidewalk and arches are open. We still have a lot of work to do but, as far as the day-to-day life of the College goes, the Long Walk is back in business.”

Through the combined efforts of a collection of engineers, architects, and stone masons, as well as B&G staff members, the historic buildings that make up the Long Walk—the original campus structures dating back to 1877—have been repaired to the point that they are safe to use. Now that the buildings are secure, the next phase of the project can begin.

That next phase will be to determine how best to proceed with the major repairs. Katz points out that shoring up the structures will allow the College to take the time necessary to make sound decisions regarding future plans for the restoration project. “The decisions we’re going to make will have long-term implications for Trinity College. We’re going to take our time and do what’s best for the institution. There is no quick fix. We want to make sure we do this right.” She credits President Jones and Early Reese, vice president for finance and treasurer, for having the presence of mind to not overreact when the extensive problems were first discovered. “Their level-headed and realistic approach to our situation made it possible for the various skilled trades people involved to do their jobs,” she says. “I appreciate their support and confidence. Initially, we had to act on a ‘worst-case’ scenario because of safety concerns—so we put up the fences and put in the temporary walk—but now that we’ve done the appropriate precautionary work we can move ahead with a sensible course of action.”

Cracks were originally discovered in stones and fixtures at various places along the Long Walk during a restoration project at the Jarvis and Seabury towers last summer. Shifting stones had created gaps between several of the dormers and the buildings, and leaks were found in the tile roofs. The temporary stabilization effort that Katz oversaw this winter included running steel cables from dormers on both sides of the buildings to the heavy wood beams that support the structures. Some of that work was made possible because College Archivist Peter Knapp was able to locate original building plans, designed by famed English architect William Burges. Those plans gave Katz and her team access to the relevant specifications they needed to make suitable corrections.

“The Long Walk is a recognizable symbol of Trinity College,” says Katz. “These are important, historic buildings and we should restore them in a way that befits their stature. In a sense, we are the curators of a living museum and I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to preserve the College’s history for future generations.”  

         

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