Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:04 pm

The alma mater

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends,Wildcats — Lex @ 5:04 pm

I was invited back to Davidson this past Wednesday to speak to a new-media seminar being led by the Batten Visiting Professor, Larry Jinks, a longtime Knight Ridder hand (primarily at San Jose) who now sits on the McClatchy board. I get back to Davidson often to visit my mother and stepdad, who live on Lake Norman, but I haven’t spent any extended time on the campus since my class’s 10th reunion. So I was seeing some buildings for the first time since their recent, and extensive, renovations.

Chambers, the primary administration/classroom building (built in 1928 on the same site as a similar but smaller building by the same name, which had burned), was extensively renovated in 2004, and by “extensively renovated,” I mean, among other things, that they took what had been a two-story, 1,100-or-so-seat auditorium and turned it into faculty offices and classrooms. It looks mostly the same on the exterior, although the back wall, which had been blank, now has windows facing the library. The brick plaza between Chambers and the library also has been gussied up a little with planters. Here’s a shot from Larry Jinks’s office:

The building I knew as the Grey Student Union is now primarily a music building, with rehearsal spaces, audio studios, instrument lockers and a beautiful recital hall upstairs in what had been the 900 Room, the on-campus nightclub, when I was there. As it happened, I ran into Cynthia Fok Lawing, a concert pianist and the wife of music professor Bill “Doc” Lawing, who led the wind ensemble during my four years as a member of that group. Cynthia was nice enough to give me a guided tour of the building during our mid-seminar break. Unfortunately, I’d left my camera in the seminar room so I didn’t get any pictures. (One of the things I love about Davidson is that instead of tearing down and building new, the college tries to re-use buildings creatively when it can. The music building actually was built as a library before being converted to the student union when the current library was built in the early 1970s, so it’s in its third incarnation.)

After the seminar, I walked from Chambers down to the current student union, which used to be Johnston Gymnasium before the new gym was built some years ago. On the way back, this spider web happened to catch my eye:

All in all it was a very pleasant trip, made even more pleasant by the fact that it got me out of town on the day when the president was supposed to visit — nothing personal; I just don’t like the traffic tie-ups such a visit creates.


  1. Thanks for this. Nice.

    Doc Lawing was one of my favorite professors, along with Tom Kazee and Alex McElway.

    With one year abroad in France, I only got three years of Spring Break on buses. I do wish they had had that rehearsal space while I was there. What a beautiful building. Though, after seeing the new Belk Theater, I may have gone with theater instead of music. Wow.

    Comment by DrFrankLives — Monday, October 23, 2006 11:48 pm @ 11:48 pm

  2. I haven’t seen the theater yet. But having worked lighting on some of the productions in Cunningham, I’m particularly eager to.

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, October 24, 2006 6:03 am @ 6:03 am

  3. I saw the RSC perform As You Like It, and it was extremely impressive.

    Comment by DrFrankLives — Tuesday, October 24, 2006 10:30 am @ 10:30 am

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