Alumni Hall originally opened in 1925 and in 2011 was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. Designed by Nashville architect Henry C. Hibbs, Alumni Hall represents the Collegiate Gothic style and was the original student center on Vanderbilt’s campus, and acted as such for nearly 50 years until Sarratt Student Center opened in 1974.
The driving force behind the building of Alumni Hall was to memorialize the Vanderbilt men who fought and died in World War I. This campaign was brought forward in March, 1919, by the Vanderbilt Alumni Association board. This shaped one of the distinguishing features of the building, which is located in the Memorial Room on the second floor. The names of the 44 Vanderbilt casualties are carved in stone above the two fireplace mantles, located at either end of the room.
Over the years Alumni Hall has served many purposes, from the original student center to administrative offices. Currently Alumni Hall houses the Faculty Senate, the Vanderbilt Writing Studio, and the Department of Alumni Relations, among others.
The renovation of Alumni Hall will be the first in its 86-year history and plans to maintain the integrity of the building’s architectural history. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust approved the project in November, 2011, to support a wide range of activities. The updated facility will support catered dining, tutoring, meeting, studying and socializing.
Construction will begin immediately following Commencement in May, 2012, with completion in summer 2013. The renovation will not only include updating the current spaces inside the building, but will also include expanded terraces on both the east and west sides of the building.
Every space inside Alumni Hall will undergo a renovation. In the basement, students will have access to a new exercise room and tutoring center. The first floor will include a new cafe, lounge, and writing studio. On the second floor the Memorial Room will undergo extensive updating, and will be joined by a new classroom and reading room. The third floor will house a new faculty office suite.
The increase in meeting space on is a response to the increased student engagement and leadership on campus and will complement the renovations occurring in the Sarratt Student Center during the summer of 2012. The space will also benefit the students living in the new College Halls that are to be built where Kissam Quandrangle currently stands.