Place. Memory. Culture.

by Kelly Joyce

We are all familiar with official maps of an area: topographic maps, tourist maps, demographic maps, etc. Such maps highlight particular spaces, bringing certain sites or details of sites to the fore. Stories, official or otherwise, are part of creating memory. Although official tours or maps evoke symbolically and emotionally valuable sites, they may not include places that are particularly important to community members.

Looking from Lodge 1 toward one of the original Lodges that houses the Daily Grind coffee house.

Anthropologists, artists, historians, sociologists and other scholars investigate the social construction of place and its meanings to individuals and collectivities/communities. Work on the cultural meaning of places brings forward community members’ views and memories, highlighting the varied meanings attached to particular areas, buildings and landscapes.

When you think of the official maps of William and Mary, what sites are highlighted? Crim Dell? The Wren Building? When you think of your own cultural and memory maps of William and Mary, what sites come to mind? Morton Hall? The Lodges? In this project, we focus on the Lodges. Built in the 1940s, the Lodges are and have been a symbolically potent place on campus. When some Lodges were to be torn down to build what is now called the Sadler Center, alumni and current students protested.

Awning over the entrance to the Sadler Center’s Lodge 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the Lodges aim to be transformed yet again—into Eco-Lodges that maintain the buildings’ character and importance of place to the William and Mary community.

The Lodges also provide a way to think about broader social changes (locally and globally). As part of the community for over 60 years, talking to people about the Lodges helps document and understand changes in gender roles, higher education, technology, transportation, and more.

We look forward to hearing from you. We are interested in collecting photos and conducting interviews that raise and focus on your personal memories of the site.

 

“Funky, Intimate, Personal”

This description of the Lodges as “Funky, Intimate, Personal” comes from Chris Bram (’74 English), writer and author of the novel FATHER OF FRANKENSTEIN (1995), which was made into the movie GODS AND MONSTERS (1998).  He remembers having a class in the Lodges with Glenn Close (’74 Theatre), award-winning actress.

When Deb Boykin gave Kelly Joyce and Sharon Zuber a tour of Lodge 8 in June, she revealed that not only were classes taught in the Lodges but also English professors had offices in these unique spaces:  John Conlee, Terry Meyers, Bob Scholnick, and Peter Wiggins  are a few who we have identified so far.

Terry Meyers noted that the Secretarial Sciences department for women used to have classes in the Lodges; he remembers walking by the Lodges and hearing the simultaneous typing.

As we continue to interview people, we will be working with Amy Schindler in the Swem Special Collections Research Center to build an interactive website.  We hope people will be able to upload photos remotely and even answer a few questions online about their memories.

For more information about the interviews, email either Barbara Pearsall, bgpearsall@email.wm.edu, or Sharon Zuber., slzube@wm.edu.

Getting Started

In April 2010, the College launched a plan for an Eco-Village, a plan that would replace the W&M Lodges with sustainable, eco-friendly housing by 2015.  The Lodges, currently serving as student housing and a coffee shop near the Sadler Center,  were built in the 1940s.

November 1948 - Theta Delta Chi and Sigma Pi Lodges on "Fraternity Row."

Although much attention for this project is being placed on the future, our project looks into the past to document – before they are torn down – the existing Lodges and the experiences of the people who lived in them.

We hope to approach this project in an interdisciplinary way.  We want to look at the relationship  between the architecture and ideas of community; the importance of place; how history, memory, and culture intersect; how the Lodges represent a living/learning environment located within broader social contexts and trends.   Since we are still brainstorming, we would like input from you, the blog readers.

Technology becomes important to help us collect information (e.g., audio podcasts) and to archive the research that students compile, how to best tell the story of the Lodges with the information that is collected and make it available to the general public.

ca 1960s

Kelly Joyce, Monica Griffin, and Sharon Zuber worked on the Mercury Global Inquiry Group and experienced the synergy of people from history, sociology, art, biology, computer science, and the humanities sharing ideas.  They bring to this project an interest in communities and how they define their identity through time and in response to events around them.  Also, they are all interested in how people in academia can communicate their research more widely.

Students Katie Snyder, a junior in Marketing and Finance and a 2011-2012 EcoAmbassador Grant intern, Wonjin Choo, a junior Accounting major who has lived in Paris, Seoul, Oregon, and Virginia, and Barbara Pearsall, and Art and Art History major, round out the core committee for this project. Katie and Wonjin have begun research as an independent study with Dean Joyce.  They are learning about sociological research methods.  Katie has already discovered that her research has made her feel more a part of the W&M community, especially since she was a transfer student.  Wonjin is “excited to work on a project that aims towards sustainability. This project not only brings physical changes to the campus, but it also changes the life style that prospective students/ new members of our WM community will experience.”  Barbara, who joined the project in the summer of 2012, is interested in “all things interdisciplinary.”  Her senior honors thesis, “Object and Environment” fits perfectly with the Lodges Project/EcoVillage.  She is actively interviewing people about their memories of these special places.

We are excited about the faculty-student research opportunities this project brings as well as its contribution to the College as a way to preserve history and connect with alums.  We also hope to connect with incoming students through Prof. Griffin’s course on Community Engagement as well as create research opportunities for future students.  Once we gather information, with the help of IT and the Media Center, we plan to make available photos, floorplans, virtual tours, links to Special Collections to Board of Visitor minutes, FLAT HAT articles, and archived photos.

Through this blog, we hope that readers will send us ideas, contact information of people interested in the project as well as people who lived in the Lodges and are willing to share memories.  We are open to any creative ways to begin to tell the story of the Lodges!

[Photos: University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library]