In April, William & Mary announced a $15 million gift from alumna Hunter J. Smith ’51 for the expansion and renovation of the nearly 170-year-old Alumni House. This is the largest gift ever given to the university specifically to support alumni engagement.
The William & Mary Alumni Association’s expansion and renovation project will make the Alumni House — which sits along Richmond Road next to Zable Stadium — one of the largest social gathering spaces on campus and in Williamsburg, at nearly 55,000 square feet. It will cost a total of $20.7 million and add approximately 35,000 square feet to the current building.
Construction is expected to begin in spring 2018 and end in fall 2019.
The new major additions to the Alumni House include the following:
- New entrance with a dedicated reception area
- Event space that will accommodate up to 800 people
- Lounge and business center
- Additional restrooms, storage and catering areas
- Third floor space for future operations and activities
- Outdoor improvements including a new terrace, enclosed garden area and plaza
William & Mary legacy families will be celebrated in a new Family Courtyard outside the original Bright House section of the building. Plaques decorating this serene and beautiful space will honor generations of Tribe families by name.
“The Alumni House serves as a distinctive gateway to campus for visiting alumni, parents and friends to gather, learn and celebrate in a multitude of ways,” says Marilyn Ward Midyette ’75, executive director of the William & Mary Alumni Association. “Hunter’s generous gift will allow us to preserve the historic look and feel of our iconic building, even while we update and expand it, and will substantially enhance all of the unique opportunities and experiences we offer to the entire William & Mary community.”
An additional $4.2 million has been raised to fund the project, and the university has undertaken efforts to raise the remaining $1.5 million to complete it. William & Mary also aims to create a $4.5 million endowment supporting the operations and maintenance of the upgraded house, added Midyette.
“This expansion with its prominent architectural features will transform the current Alumni House into an impressive gathering place that all alumni will be able to enjoy when they come home to Williamsburg,” says Smith. “Preserving the elegance and character of the historic house is an important part of the upgrade, and I eagerly await construction to begin on this project.”
In recent years, the Alumni Association has sharpened its focus on advancing robust career and networking events, alumnae leadership programming, regional alumni engagement activities, travel opportunities, weddings and support for affinity groups such as the Hulon Willis Association, Order of the White Jacket, the William & Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae and others. It is also responsible for hosting events such as Homecoming & Reunion Weekend as well as its newest signature event, William & Mary Weekend.
“We are enormously grateful for this gift — it will greatly strengthen our alumni engagement efforts and provide better avenues for alumni to build lifelong relationships with one another and the university,” says Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for university advancement. “Hunter has a long legacy of inspiring, empowering and enriching the lives of so many in our William & Mary family and we are deeply thankful for her extraordinary loyalty and support over the years. She is a most cherished alumna.”
William & Mary has contracted Richmond architecture, interior design and planning firm Glavé and Holmes to design and complete the project. Glavé and Holmes has more than 50 years of experience and its portfolio includes new buildings, additions to buildings, renovations and adaptive reuse for higher education and historic preservation clients.