The end of an era: The Frank E. Brown
The Brock Commons, a new student center, is slated for completion in May 2013.
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of great things
happening at Randolph-Macon College.
On March 21, 2012, demolition of the Frank E. Brown Campus Center began, in preparation
for the construction of Brock
Commons, a new student center.
As backhoes grumbled and bricks tumbled, onlookers snapped photos. For
Admissions Counselor Kellyn Fleming ’09, taking a few pictures
was a way to capture the end of an era.
“The old Campus Center held a lot of memories for me,” says Fleming. “Some of my
fondest memories of life as a student were the times my friends and I would go to
Macon Coffee, raid the bookstore and say hello
to Barclay. When it was warm outside, we would sit underneath the umbrellas and
eat lunch. The Campus Center was the location for my Bid Turn-in for sorority recruitment
and where I met my pledge sisters for the first time.”
Fleming is excited that students will soon be able to enjoy the amenities of a modern
student center. The Brock Commons will include a movie theater, an expanded campus
bookstore, dining services with an open café, a balcony, a portico with tables,
a student mailroom, and multi-purpose rooms and spaces. The anticipated completion
date for the new facility is Spring 2013.
“The layout of the old building didn’t really lend itself to a ‘hang-out’ space,”
says Fleming. “I can’t help but be excited for what this means for current and prospective
students. It will quickly become the focal point of the campus.”
Watching the building come down was “surreal,” according to Fleming. “In the Admissions
Office we have been telling prospective students for months about the new center,
but now they can actually see the progress when they tour the campus.”
Admissions Counselor Katie Harding ’09 was a little sad to watch
the Campus Center demolition, but she looks forward to seeing the new construction
“The renderings for Brock Commons are amazing,” says Harding, “and prospective families
love hearing about new additions to campus. The campus is changing, but it is definitely
changing for the better.”
The old Campus Center, built in 1974, was named in honor of R-MC Trustee and benefactor
Frank. E. Brown. For Judee Showalter ’84, circulation supervisor
at the McGraw-Page Library, watching the building
come down was bittersweet. She and her husband,
Economics/Business Professor Ed Showalter ’84, had their
wedding reception there.
“It was convenient, and we could serve champagne, which we couldn’t do at the church,”
says Showalter. “It was also fun because we are both alums, as were most of the
members of our wedding party. It was a pretty day and the big glass doors leading
to the fountain were open. I threw my bouquet off the stairs.” Despite her fond
memories of the old Campus Center, Showalter is thrilled about the future Brock
“The old Campus Center didn’t work for current students,” she says. “In the early
1980s it was very much the ‘meet and greet’ place. We got our mail and checked in
with friends between classes. Before e-mail and cell phones, mail from home was
a big deal. There was even a grand piano under an exposed staircase. There were
concerts and movies in the lobby, and we held sorority meetings in the Kaufman Gallery.”
The systematic removal of the current building—it will take three days to demolish,
and two to three weeks to clean up the area before new construction can begin—will
facilitate the salvaging of all recyclable materials. This cost-cutting measure
will help with the pursuit of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
certification, the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Metals
will be reused, and brick, concrete and slate will be crushed and reused.
Showalter says the Brock Commons will play an important role on campus.
“It will give students a place to get together and relax, and it will give the campus
community the central hub we need,” she says.
Click on Webcam to view live coverage
of the demolition of the Frank E. Brown Campus Center.
The Brock Commons is made possible in part through a lead $5 million gift from Joan
and Macon F. Brock Jr. ’64 and a $1.4 million gift from Tom Birdsong ’49 and The