By Ceillie Keane
ReUnion weekend brings all sorts of anniversaries to mind, and while the college is ready for this year’s annual celebration, it is looking forward as well.
Union is already beginning to plan for the celebration of next year’s 200th anniversary of the completion of Joseph-Jacques Ramée’s plans for the campus in 1813 with the creation of the Tour of Historic Union.
This tour group began as the idea of retired professor and former interim president Jim Underwood about five years ago. Underwood explains, “such tours were given at University of Virginia,” which not coincidentally, is believed by many to be the first architecturally planned campus in the country.
Underwood wanted a tour of historic Union in order to make “both people on campus, around [campus], and alumni more aware” of the historical significance, specifically as the first planned campus based on French architect Ramée’s design approved by the president of Union at the time, Eliphalet Nott.
In working toward making the idea a reality, Underwood has collaborated with other retired faculty, current faculty members, alumni and students to gather the background information and create tour group.
Erica Fugger ‘12, Benjamin Engle ‘12 and Adam Pere ‘13 are the students working to gather the information on the historical campus. Each is in the process of profiling buildings or spaces designed or impacted by Ramée’s original plans that will be included on the historic tour.
Jackson’s Gardens, Schaffer Library, North College, South College and Reamer Campus Center are some of the stops that are being profiled and will be particularly highlighted on the historic tours.
Fugger explains that each profiler is “looking into the ways the buildings have changed over the years,” which includes both “how they were first envisioned by Ramée and how they’ve transitioned, been remodeled, reconstructed or otherwise kind of changed.”
These profiles will be used as a guideline for the training of the tour guides, who will be called Ramée Guides.
Faculty have submitted “over 20 nominations” for potential Ramée Guides, who will undergo the training session in the fall term, after the profiling and planning for the tour is completed.
These tours will begin in the fall term, but Underwood would like to see the Tours of Historic Union become “a regular thing” on campus that would happen on most Saturdays.
Fugger explains that these tours will “be open definitely to the campus community, especially to alumni during Homecoming and ReUnion weekend.”
The historic tours will also be open to the surrounding community. Fugger believes that this historical planning is “really Union’s own identity and the character that formed our campus.”
Additionally, she believes that it is “really important that this aspect of the history is well communicated, especially in this public history setting.”