Historic Hanawalt House receives cultural face-lift
Posted Oct. 2, 2008
Steven Bier
The Hanawalt House, originally built in 1905 by W.C. Hanawalt, Lordsburg College President from 1902-1908, has undergone reconstruction since a fire nearly destroyed it on Dec. 19, 2004. The project is scheduled for completion in spring 2009. The original Victorian architecture will be restored. The Hanawalt House is listed on the California Registry of Historical Sites and will serve as the new site for offices of University Advancement personnel.

Lesley Michaels
News/Web Editor


Tucked in the east shadow of the massive Campus Center building project is the Hanawalt House reconstruction. The house is a historic building that nearly burned to the ground from an unknown cause on the very year that it was celebrating its centennial.

That was almost four years ago. Today, the former president’s house is being restored to its original Victorian time period luster.

The Hanawalt House encompasses rich historical and architectural significance, making it an impressive landmark to be found on campus, as well as in La Verne.

“This is the architectural opposite to the modern and sleek Student Center,” said David Koch, director of facilities management. “In contrast, it will have a special feel to it that cannot be replaced anywhere on campus.”

The campus will be able to showcase the beautiful house after its completion in mid March 2009.

“The house was constructed in 1905 by W.C. Hanawalt, who was president of the College at the time,” said Chip West, director of the Campus Center, who is in charge of furnishing the house.

The Hanawalt House has been used for numerous services on campus since being occupied by early University presidents. According to West, the house was purchased from the school in 1973 to be used for childcare services, which were available to children of students, faculty and the larger community.

The house was later approached by ULV President Stephen Morgan’s beautification committee, on which Morgan’s wife served.

“The committee made sure there were structural improvements and modifications, such as making it earthquake proof,” West said.

Unfortunately, the Hanawalt House suffered great damage from the fire in 2004, when it was serving as home to the Human Resources Department. Proof of the fire has been visible to passersby through its boarded up windows and burn marks until the restoration began. Almost immediately after the fire occurred, the University began the paperwork task to have reconstruction plans finalized by the city of La Verne.

“It has taken a long time to get reconstruction plans approved by the city,” Koch said. “We’ve been working hard to meet the historical preservation standards.”

Roger Hardy, deputy vice president for campus development, shares Koch’s level of anticipation for the completion of the house since it is recognized by the California Historical Register as a historic structure.

“It has taken so long to begin the restoration process; we’ve almost forgotten what it looks like,” Hardy said.

Once plans were approved, ULV commenced the restoration project in May 2008, contracting with Braeger Construction, a company that has worked to restore more than a dozen Claremont homes, Koch said.

The budget for the house is $1.2 million. Almost $800,000 was provided by insurance, Koch said.

“The 3,000 square foot house will have a downstairs for events, and the upstairs will serve as offices for University Advancement personnel,” Koch said.

Charles Bentley, public relations director, and Beth Elmore, senior director of alumni relations, will be among those to work in the restored house.

“The upstairs will be set to more of a University standard,” Koch said. “The downstairs is where the Victorian feel will be.”

The new first floor will have three meeting areas where people can book events or hold presentations or dinners, Koch said. A boardroom will have a lengthy table for meals from catering through a service kitchen.

“The house will be showcased in ULV tours, alumni and donor events,” West said.

West will serve as one of the primary coordinators for events.

Once the public sees the immaculate furnishing of the old house, it will be an impressive addition to the campus.

“We’re trying to make each room on the first floor have its own appearance through the use of Victorian colors and furnishings,” Koch said.

As for the interior decorating, a joint collaboration of West and DMA Associates are working to ensure the house will represent the Victorian era.

“We are working very hard to make it very period and complimentary to the original architecture,” West said.

Extensive research about the interior decorating schemes of the Victorian time period has been conducted, Koch said. Colors of the period will be painted vibrantly on the walls—mainly pale greens, yellows and burgundies—as well as the colors for the replica furniture. Seven replica chandeliers will hang on the first floor.

“The house is a work of price on behalf of our contractor, other consultants and the rest of the team,” Koch said. “It has been passion that has led us to make it what it will be.”

Lesley Michaels can be reached at lesley.michaels@laverne.edu.

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