An architectural feat chronicling Bradley University’s and Peoria’s past…

In a city that takes pride in its past, Peoria’s Bradley University now offers its own impressive showcase for campus history in the new Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. Adjoining the circa-1897 Bradley Hall, the center welcomes alumni, students and visitors in a three-story, multi-use building for tours, meetings and special events. The center’s Shaheen Hall of Pride has become a popular destination, featuring 22 display cases, dioramas and videos that chronicle the university’s growth and influential history.

Bradley University opened the center in the fall of 2011, with generous donations from alumni Jerry Hayden, Marilyn Keller Hayden, Bob Clark, and Bob’s wife, Kathleen. Since then, more than 24,000 people have visited the building and viewed the memorabilia, photos, interactive maps and other items in the Shaheen Hall of Pride, a gift of alumni Gerald Shaheen and Pamela Cuthbert Shaheen. The Alumni Center was built not only to promote Bradley’s history, but also engage alumni and cultivate pride in their alma mater.

“Throughout our history, we have maintained close ties with the Peoria community,” says Bradley University President Joanne K. Glasser. “We’ve been pleased to see so many local residents touring the Hall of Pride, as well as visitors from around the country. It’s a fascinating collection.”

Fulfilling the Founder’s Dream
Established in 1897, Bradley University is the fulfillment of a dream of founder Lydia Moss Bradley, who envisioned a modern learning environment that would “furnish its students with the means of living an independent, industrious and useful life by the aid of a practical knowledge of the useful arts and sciences.” Today, Bradley serves more than 5,000 undergraduate students and recently completed its Renaissance Campaign, a major capital program that supported construction of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center, Renaissance Coliseum, Markin Family Student Recreation Center and Main Street parking deck, as well as the modernization and expansion of historic Westlake Hall, the second-oldest building on campus.

The development of the 39,554-square-foot Alumni Center created an opportunity to establish a much-needed campus museum. “Prior to the opening of the Alumni Center, we didn’t have a museum or ‘Hall of Pride,’” says Bradley’s Executive Director of Donor Relations Kathy Fuller, who managed the development of the exhibits with consultation assistance from the Maude Group. “There were a few artifacts in cases around the campus, and some in Special Collections at the library. It was quite a project to assemble. We talked to a lot of alumni from past eras, and went through old photos and yearbooks. Many people came forward with interesting objects and stories.”

Now, several unique objects are on display for the first time: a hand-blown cranberry glass luncheon set, a gift of the estate of alumna Lois Shanemeyer Hamilton that once belonged to Lydia Moss Bradley; a portion of Mrs. Bradley’s jewelry collection; an old bowling pin, recalling the days when there was a bowling alley in the student center; and the 1940s decade case, which includes a World War II serviceman’s cap and dog tag, as well as a freshman’s beanie.

“You can spend all day there,” says Shelley Epstein, associate vice president for communications. Among Epstein’s favorite items is an “Fe” stamp that belonged to Dr. Paul Snider, a journalism professor at the university from 1955 to 1985. “The Fe stamp stood for ‘fact error,’” says Epstein. “He was a much-loved professor, well-known for using that stamp on student papers.”

An interactive map depicting the development of the campus through the years is another highlight. Other displays focus on sports, notable alumni, the evolution of dormitory living, and the university’s early history in teaching horology, or watchmaking.

A Link to the Past
A two-sided fireplace, a replica of a marble fireplace in Lydia Moss Bradley’s home on Moss Avenue, opens into the Hall of Pride and the center’s main-floor library, a gift of alumnus Mark Turner and his wife, Christine. The fireplace is among many design elements linking the building itself to campus history. Designed by architectural/engineering firm Dewberry, the building incorporates elements of collegiate gothic architecture, such as arches, buttresses and a crenellated tower. The façade is constructed of Indiana limestone, like Bradley Hall and other historic campus buildings.

Four hand-carved limestone gargoyles sit atop the center. In a gesture of appreciation to the past, two of them are replicas of existing gargoyles on Bradley Hall. The other two are original, overlooking a new view to the west. Technically, they are ‘grotesques,’ rather than gargoyles. Gargoyles are functional—usually as waterspouts and drains—but these are ornamental. “They are an enormous hit with the students and alumni,” said Executive Director of Alumni Relations Lori Winters Fan.

Positioning the Alumni Center along the western side of Bradley Hall created the opportunity for the development of the “Alumni Quad,” an engaging new green space on campus. The quad features seating, walkways and a young grove of trees. The building and its setting achieved a LEED-Silver certification for sustainability by the U.S. Green Building Council.

In addition to the Shaheen Hall of Pride, alumni now have an inviting and functional home of their own when they return to campus. The third-floor Peplow Pavilion, a gift from alumnus Gary Peplow and his wife Judy, accommodates 264 guests and includes the Peplow Terrace overlooking the Alumni Quad. There is abundant space for conferences and meetings. The second floor houses the Alumni Relations office suite. “There’s clearly a ‘wow’ factor when you walk into the building,” President Glasser says. “The ballroom is lovely, and the entire building is very functional.”

President Glasser says many of the visitors are surprised by all that they find in the Shaheen Hall of Pride. “They don’t realize the depth of our history and the impact that our alumni have had in government, science, industry and elsewhere,” she says. “We couldn’t have done it without the alumni—the committee that worked so closely with the university on this project, and all the people who donated items. It’s a wonderful timeline of Bradley University history, and an important part of Peoria history as well.” iBi

Tom Seymour, AIA is a senior principal in Dewberry’s Peoria office, which has worked with Bradley University for more than 30 years.