A Kenyon Landmark RebornGAMBIER, Ohio (August 30, 2008) The Mongolian grill, charbroilers, and tandoori oven are heating up in the fresh gleam of the spacious new servery. The flash freezer is ready for local produce. The stained glass windows, with their scenes from literary classics, are shining in the Great Hall dining room.
Peirce Hall, one of Kenyon's chief landmarks, has reopened after a $28-million renovation project that preserved the building's magnificent traditional spaces while adding new amenities, with an emphasis on sustainability and local foods. The project included the complete reconstruction of adjoining Dempsey Hall.
The complex, including an expanded pub space, a new patio overlooking the countryside, and all-new cooking and serving stations, will give Kenyon one of the top dining programs in the country, according to College officials. Kenyon has been a leader in forging partnerships with area farmers to bring fresh local foods into its dining halls.
In the new Peirce, students enter the servery through a dramatic, glass-ceilinged atrium. The food stations offer a wide range of choices, from fresh stir-fries to pizzas baked in a stone-lined oven, from deli sandwiches and traditional grill items to salads filled with local produce. There are three large dining rooms: the fabled Great Hall; a sleek, light-filled modern counterpart in Dempsey, called Richard L. and Helen Thomas Hall; and a downstairs room, Alumni Hall. The lower level also features four private dining rooms, which groups may reserve.
Sustainability is an emphasis, with local foods the centerpiece of the program. About 40 percent of the College's food purchases this year are expected to come from local sources. In the building's new dish room, food waste is ground into pulp and eventually converted to compost. The dish-cleaning system monitors the use of chemicals and water based on the volume of dishes.
The 70,000-square-foot complex is now entirely air-conditioned. Elevators have been added, as well as restrooms on every floor. The upstairs levels are devoted largely to offices for student organizations, including the Collegian and the Black Student Union.
Plans are taking shape for a celebration to dedicate the new facility with an array of special events on October 23-25.