Loyola University Maryland will officially open the first alumni house in its 162-year history on Jan. 13.
"This is kind of our new front door for the alumni," said Megan Gillick, of Keswick, vice president for advancement .
Loyola changed from a college to a university in 2009. "Now that we are a university, we can say that we need an alumni house," Gillick said as she and Dan Barnett, director of alumni relations, gave a tour of the alumni house late last month.
"I'm very excited to have a house for alumni on campus," said Barnett, of Greektown, who came to Loyola nine months ago from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., which has an alumni house. "To know that we had that house (at Carnegie Mellon) was meaningful to alumni."
"I didn't even know universities had alumni houses," said Nick Alexopulos, a Loyola spokesman and 2003 graduate of Loyola.
The first function at the alumni house was Dec. 9, as part of the kickoff for Loyola's new, $100 million fundraising campaign, of which more than $43 million has already been raised. The kickoff event included the announcement that Loyola trustee John Cochran, a 1973 graduate, and his wife, Patricia, were making a gift of $5 million to fund the alumni house and scholarships for students from the Baltimore area.
The kickoff event was well attended, despite impending snow, officials said.
"I think the allure of seeing this house was what got people out in such lousy weather," Gillick said.
Purchased and renovated at an overall cost of $1.7 million, funded by private contributions, the three-story, Federal-style brick Colonial at 208 E. Cold Spring Lane, with five bedrooms and five fireplaces, sits on 1.25 acres, set well back from Cold Spring Lane at Millbrook Road. It is separated by an iron fence from the university president's house.
Previously owned by Michael Harrison, former general manager of the now-defunct Baltimore Opera Company, the imposing house with its spacious, wrap-around lawn, built in 1927, is now named for Loyola's current president, the Rev. Brian Linnane.
The house will be open to an estimated 56,000 living Loyola alumni to visit, although it will not serve as a hotel or guest quarters.
"I think it's the mark of a prestigious, elite institution that really values its alumni and the contributions they're making to the university and the community at large," Alexopulos said. "We have alumni all over the world. When they come to town, just to have a place, a home base, is invaluable."
Loyola purchased the house in spring 2011 after negotiations with the Kernewood Association, a community group, and the North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition. Kernewood and the coalition approved an exception to Loyola's 1985 legal agreement with area communities that limits the university's ability to expand its property ownership in the area. Cindy Leahy, president of the coalition, said at the time that the coalition didn't consider an alumni house as a potential source of loud noise, parking problems or other issues that first led to the agreement.
"I love the house. We had some great events here," Harrison said at the time. He had often hosted opera company parties in the 6,000-square-foot house.
The house has a new roof and windows and has been reconfigured to some extent. Its hardwood floors gleam.
"It needed much work when we purchased it," Gillick said. She said Loyola's facilities crews did most of the work.
The former dining room will be a reception area, with someone on hand to greet guests, and the living room will be a lounge area. The ample kitchen will be used for catering events. Upstairs bedrooms will become offices. The former sun room will be a conference room.
The house is tastefully decorated, with a chandelier hanging in the stairwell, comfortable settees and wing chairs in the living room, and Loyola-centric photographs on the walls, including of astronaut and 1982 Loyola graduate Timothy "TJ" Creamer, the first Tweeter from space, wearing a Loyola shirt. There's also a photo of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy giving a speech at Loyola in 1958.
Of particular note are two posters, side by side and nearly identical, except that one refers to Loyola as a college and the other as a university. Also of note is a painting above the mantle of the living room fireplace. Depicting a cornfield, it's the work of landscape painter and Loyola Associate Professor of Fine Arts Mary Beth Akre, class of 1980. The painting's owner is Loyola executive vice president Susan Donovan.