With its 1,093 seats in a strikingly open setting, the new Class of 1953 Commons—which replaced Thayer Dining Hall this fall following a significant renovation—offers students a flexible space in which to eat and gather. The modern facility includes three multi-use areas that students can reserve for evening events, complete with furniture designed for quick rearrangement.
“I like the space—the upstairs is especially nice—and these long tables can fit almost our entire team,” says Keta Burke-Williams ’15, a member of the women’s track and field team. “Plus the tall wooden chairs are cool—they remind me of something from Harry Potter.”
Originally built in 1937, the building operated using 74-year-old electrical and plumbing systems until the improvements, which have made the facility 25 percent more energy efficient and will cut the College’s annual energy bill by more than $300,000.
The renovations were made possible thanks to a $12 million gift from more than 250 members of the Class of 1953.
“The campus clearly needed a better commons space, and the result is a beautiful, well-designed building in an important location,” says Charles Reilly ’53, a Hanover resident and member of the gift committee. Other members of the Class of 1953 who led the gift effort include Philip Beekman, the late Donald Carpenter Goss, Robert Henderson, Robert Malin, Robert Simpson, and Frederick Whittemore.
A conference room in the building has been named after the late Paul Donnelly Paganucci ’53, a scholar, educator, and entrepreneur who began organizing his class’s major gift in 1992. “Our gift to build the Commons happened because of Paul,” says Reilly.