Use of three historic campus buildings remains unclear


Fenner Hall has been used for special events during the course of the year.

Nicole Zukowski, Assistant News Editor

What is that building used for? This is a question some wonder when walking by some buildings on campus.

Wilkes is known for its historic buildings, but the use of these buildings is a mystery. Three of these historic buildings are Fenner Hall, the President’s House and Annette Evans Alumni House.

“Each has a different purposes at the moment but could change when discussions are made and become part of the campus’ master plan,” Vice President of Finance and General Counsel Loren Prescott said.

Fenner Hall is a gray building located on South Franklin Street next to Capin Hall. It is not used for anything specific but often used to hold meetings, conferences or faculty and staff meetings. The debate team meets on the first floor of the hall.

Fenner Hall is unique with collections of rose brushes around the property to honor the previous owner of the house, Attorney George L. Fenner. Although Fenner donated his house to Wilkes in 1985, he lived there until his death in 2001. The house itself dates back to the late 1880s.

Fenner was Wilkes’ first honorary trustee and is honored not only with the the building but also s the greenway, which is formally named the George Fenner Quadrangle.

On West River Street next to Waller Halls North South and the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center is the President’s House. This brick house was called home by five of Wilkes past presidents.

The house was used for academic and administrative purposes when it was first bought by the university. In 1970, the house was refurbished for the president at the time although current President Patrick Leahy and his family do not reside in the building.

Since then the home was renovated, but the initial structure and features remain whole expect the floors which had to be replaced due to flooding. The focal points of the house are the large dining room and sun-room with its marble floor.

The President’s House was built in 1925 to house Paul Sterling. His father, Walter G. Sterling, lived in Sterling Hall on River Street.

Prescott said there are currently no plans for the future use of these two buildings.

“There have been no discussions about the short term or long term use of Fenner Hall and President’s House,” he said.

Named after a charitable benefactor of Wilkes and member of the Board of Trustees, Annette Evans, the Annette Evans Alumni House sits on South River Street between the Cohen Science Building and Conyngham Hall.

The building’s first use was as the home Wilkes’ first President, Eugene Farley. Evans donated in her will that her house was to go to Wilkes for the use of being the Alumni Association headquarters on campus.

“As related to the gift from the donor of this building, in the future it will be renovated and serve as the alumni house,” Prescott said.

This building was designed by architects Innes and Levy around 1928 for Harry R. Hirshowitz, a businessman. With most of the earliest house still unharmed, due to the Agnes Flood of 1972 causing damage, the original house had to be razed.

All three building hold historic character that makes the Wilkes’ campus nonparallel to other universities.