Maryville College expanding into former U.S. Bank building
Maryville College’s Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices soon will move to the former U.S. Bank building located at 826 East Lamar Alexander Parkway.
The announcement was made Friday by Dr. Bryan F. Coker, Maryville College president, in a memo distributed to the campus community. In it, he explained that the building was constructed on campus property in 2006, when the College entered into a lease with Bank East. In 2012, U.S. Bank acquired Bank East, and it occupied the property until the branch’s closing in 2019. With the recent expiration of the bank’s lease, ownership and possession of the building reverted to the College.
“The 4,600-square-foot facility, which is in good shape, offers the opportunity to house these [Advancement and Alumni Affairs] staff members together under one roof, whereas they are currently split between Willard House and Alexander House,” the president wrote. “Furthermore, this building can be easily accessed by visitors, especially those with mobility issues, and provides us with additional frontage and visibility on the increasingly traveled Highway 321.”
Cosmetic and technological updates to the former bank building are expected to be completed this spring. The 12 employees of the Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices, which include Church Relations, are expected to move this summer.
The College will refer to the building as the “Office of Institutional Advancement” and hopes to hold an Open House at a later date, when COVID-19 health risks are lower.
A vision for Willard House
In his memo to campus, Coker wrote that Willard House, home to the College’s Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices since the late 1980s, could be renovated to serve as a welcome center for prospective students and their families and office space for Admissions.
According to the president, freestanding locations for Admissions staff and services are a growing trend on college campuses – one that recognizes the importance of enrollment functions and the need to provide prospective students and families with a positive lasting impression.
“Many of us believe Willard House, with its history, architecture and exceptional views of the mountains and athletic fields, would make a very fitting location for a welcome center, as well as our Admissions staff and services,” Coker stated.
Erected in 1890 as a memorial to Dr. Sylvester Willard of New York, Willard House was the home of the College president and his family from 1891 until 1951. In the years that followed, it served as home of the Dean of Women and also as a residence hall. In 1982, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the College’s historic district.
Willard House’s last major comprehensive renovation was in 1988, and Coker indicated that it would need one again to become a “showcase space.”
“The timing for these renovations and the Admissions relocation will depend on the scope of necessary renovations, as well as fundraising progress,” he wrote in the memo. “As we all know, new and/or updated spaces for the Natural Sciences and Behavioral Sciences divisions as well as Athletics remain our top fundraising priorities, but an Admissions Welcome Center presents a philanthropic opportunity that will be specifically meaningful and attractive to donors who may not be inclined to contribute to other projects.”
Leadership Blount moving
Also vacating Alexander House this year is the staff of Leadership Blount, which has occupied the building’s first floor since 2004, when an extensive renovation of that historic home was completed. Leadership Blount will be relocating to space inside the Clayton Center for the Arts on the campus.
“We are excited about the collaboration that will result from staff members of these two community-focused entities working in close proximity,” Coker wrote, adding that discussions are being held about the future use of Alexander House. The original home of alumnus and longtime Board member Rev. John Alexander and his wife, MC English professor Jane Bancroft Smith Alexander, Alexander House was built in 1906 and donated to the College through the couple’s estate.
“The goal of our capital projects is to effectively utilize our physical resources for the fulfillment of our mission, as well as the overall advancement of the College,” Coker wrote to the campus. “Please stay tuned for additional updates in the coming months, as we endeavor to responsibly plan and build for our future.”