According to Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Sustainability Ian Smith, the College will renovate Bexley Hall to provide up to 40 additional dorm rooms for students. Bexley was home to Library and Information Services (LBIS) staff while Chalmers Library was under construction. Its redesign and renovation process is scheduled to be completed by August 2023.
Situated at the northernmost point of Middle Path, Bexley Hall was constructed between 1839 and 1843 and designed by British architect Henry Roberts. The building housed the Bexley Hall Theological Seminary until 1968, and the Jacobethan-style building — distinctive among Kenyon structures for its use of brick — is listed in Ohio’s Register of Historic Places.
Bexley’s renovation comes as the College welcomed 560 students into the Class of 2025, the largest in its history. The unusually large class has shifted the distribution of students on campus, with the Kenyon Inn serving as student housing, numerous apartment doubles converting into triples and the College renting the Pines of Apple Valley to house more students.
According to Smith, planning for the building’s renovation remains in its early stages, and details such as which students might be housed in Bexley have yet to be determined. However, Smith did mention that the College will not make changes to the exterior of the building, except for the installation of energy-efficient windows.
President Sean Decatur noted that the renovation of Bexley Hall was made possible by a gift to the College, and arose as part of larger discussions regarding expanding Kenyon’s housing capacity.
“It’ll be nice to have the opportunity for Bexley to be restored, rejuvenated [and] brought back as an active building again,” said Decatur. “We will work on plans over the course of the next few months, and then be able to get started sometime [around the] spring of .”
In addition to the renovation of Bexley, the College will begin construction of three new residential buildings in the fall of 2023, which will require the demolition of Manning and Bushnell Residence Halls. Made possible by a $100 million gift to the College made in January of 2021, the new infrastructure will allow the College to expand its student population over the next 10 years. According to a news bulletin report from the meeting of the Kenyon Board of Trustees on Nov. 3, Kenyon will also utilize modular units to overcome short-term housing shortages.
Buildings and Grounds Chairperson Caleb Newman ’24 looks forward to providing input on the process, and sees the renovation of Bexley as a welcome and symbolically rich change. “I look forward to working with Senior Staff to provide input on the process,” said Newman. “I think having it join Old Kenyon as a residential hall to bookend Middle Path is a great idea,” he said.