The Renovation of Agnes Scott “Main” Hall

A labor of love. The work of our future. Get an update on the renovations of historic Main Hall that are well underway.

Agnes Scott “Main” Hall, constructed in 1891, is the oldest building on campus. “Main,” as it is referred to by our campus community, has been home to the offices of the president, dean of students, communications and marketing, and other administrative divisions. Main has consistently been one of the most popular halls for Scotties to live in over the decades.

The upper three floors previously provided more than 88 student residential spaces, including the only triple rooms on campus. Prior to the current renovation, Main did not have air conditioning, and was well-known on campus for its quirky attributes like the building’s temperamental elevator.

“I spent my sophomore year living in a triple on the third floor of Main,” said Julia Lutgendorf ’04, director of design strategy for the office of communications and marketing. “I was in love with the architecture (which the Princeton Review called “palace-like” at the time) and terrified of the elevator. It has been a pleasure to spend the past several years working in various offices on the first floor of Main, and I can’t wait to see the building after it’s renovated.”

Main is also the location of the college’s iconic tower, which houses a 1,500-pound bronze bell. Manufactured by the renowned Royal Eijsbouts foundry in the Netherlands, the hand-cast bell was installed in the tower on Sept. 3, 1986. A special dedication ceremony was held that day on campus with Milton Scott, grandson of the college’s founder, in attendance. The bell is rung to celebrate students receiving job offers or acceptances to graduate schools, as well as in times of sorrow and remembrance.

With all of Main’s charm, campus leadership has recognized the responsibility to be its faithful stewards, especially as enrollment continues to grow. The building is a standing testament to progress, innovation, leadership and scholarship that represents the college's shared history and future. These factors are why Main’s renovation was made a top priority in 2018.

In order to secure the $31.8 million needed to restore the historic building’s pomp, circumstance and grandeur, the college launched the Campaign for Main. Currently $15.5 million (48.7 percent) of the goal to date has been raised from more than 325 donors, including alumnae, spouses, parents, and corporate and foundation friends. These gifts have fully funded Phase I and Phase II restoration work.Phase I restoration work was completed in fall 2018 and included foundation stabilization and waterproofing. Phase II restoration work is currently underway and includes the replacement of the roof and the installation of a new enclosed roof space that will house the building’s HVAC equipment, tuckpointing and replacement of brickwork, window replacement, and other exterior enhancements.

 

Check the progress of the renovation below.
 

 

Although the campaign was briefly paused in March 2020 with the emergence of COVID-19, the college is now actively working to secure the remaining $16.3 million to fund Phase III restoration work and successfully conclude the Campaign for Main.

Phase III restoration work will include student living spaces and administrative offices renovation, including furniture, fixtures, lighting and technology equipment; updated plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC and audiovisual equipment; preservation of the bell tower, including the digitization and display of the hundreds of student signatures that adorn its walls.

“We recognize the challenge of raising $16.3 million, especially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic; however, it is a challenge that we embrace fully,” said Robiaun Charles, vice president for college advancement. “The importance and urgency of completing the much-needed restoration is not simply about reaching our fundraising goal. It is about students living and learning in our vibrant campus community as they prepare to lead everywhere. Ultimately, the Campaign for Main ensures that Scotties of tomorrow will experience the same history and traditions that began in 1891 and continue today.”

Watch: Campaign for Main Renovation Video

The renovation of Main is also in line with the college’s continued commitment to environmental sustainability. As part of this renovation, Main is currently on track to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level of certification.

“Achieving the third level of certification in a four-level program is a major accomplishment for a building of this age,” said Susan Kidd, executive director for the center for sustainability. “Our colleagues on campus are remaining vigilant to the possibility of making decisions that might elevate Main to LEED Platinum certification.”

Final LEED certification will not be received until the application is reviewed, soon after the building reopens. The Center for Sustainability is working with the Main project team to ensure that points are received in all LEED categories, which include energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable building materials, construction waste diversion, environmentally sound landscape planning and other innovative efficiency efforts. The renovation of Main as a “green building” is truly an accomplishment to be celebrated. 

“Main has been home to so many Scotties,” said Lea Ann Hudson ’76, associate vice president and secretary of the board. “I'm excited to see the building become fresh and relevant again for the 21st century (with air conditioning!) while retaining its historic character.” 

As the college continues to set its sights on empowering eager and active leaders, Main serves as a symbol of the past and of infinite future possibilities. Please continue to track the progress of Main (and make a contribution) on the Campaign for Main webpage.