Humanities Center: What It Means to Loyola

Within Its Four Walls are Countless Memories

By Brigid Darragh

Most people would argue that the buildings, bricks, and grassy quadrangle are not the things that make up Loyola.

And yet most people would in turn argue that the Humanities Center is synonymous with Loyola.

The people are what constitute a community, especially one as vibrant and globally interconnected as Loyola’s.

The beautiful mansion is the first landmark prospective students are shown on a tour. Its wraparound porch is often the meeting place at the end of the Quad for first-year students who still don’t know their way around during those first weeks of September when classes begin.

It is the most photographed and iconic building on the beautiful Evergreen campus, often the subject of calendars, brochures, commencement programs, and ID cards.

When I heard the news that the building had flooded and undergone damage, my heart sank.

Of all the buildings that could fall victim to a burst sprinkler system, why this beautiful Tudor mansion?

Turns out my reaction was not a unique one, and I watched as comments and emails flooded in from concerned alumni, wondering how bad the damage was to the building, and if and when it could be repaired.

(We can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing the damage has been assessed, and it is concentrated in areas that are already being repaired.)

I have two first memories of the Humanities Center that I’d like to share.

My first first memory is that of a prospective student. I had taken a trip to Baltimore with my father to seal my college decision-making process in April of my senior year of high school. I was between two schools. This was a big decision. (In hindsight, my decision to attend Loyola has shaped every major life decision I’ve made since. Thankfully I did not fully realize the scope of this at the ripe age of 18, for I might have passed out on that warm spring day from the pressure of possibly making the wrong decision.)

I met with a student who was working for the summer in admissions. We sat in winged armchairs in the quiet of the Hug Lounge and she told me why she chose Loyola, why she loved Loyola, and answered all of my questions about Loyola and about going to college 300 miles south of any and everything I had known to this point honestly and with humor. (Oddly enough, she and I went on to become friends, play club soccer together, and are still in touch to this day. If you are reading this, you know who you are. I am eternally grateful for that meeting.)

When my father and I left after our appointment, my mind was nearly set. When it came time to board our return flight to Hartford after enjoying crab cakes in Fells Point, I had made my choice.

My second memory takes place on Sept. 3, 2002—and it is one of fear, helplessness, and panic.

I was lugging around a heavy bag, a copy of my first-semester course schedule in my other hand, while failing to navigate the labyrinth the Humanities building has become known for. (It would be the first of many lost minutes spent in this building.)

It was the first day of classes. I knew no one. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. I was uncaffeinated. (I hadn’t yet learned how to brew coffee.) It was hot and humid and I was sweating profusely, backtracking, and trying to manage to look cool as I finally stopped to ask someone who looked official to point me in the right direction.

Years later, I don’t know who that professor was, but she smiled and told me that the clock on the wall was fast and not to worry. I wouldn’t be late to my first English class.

I invite you to share your stories or memories of the Humanities Center, the porch, the Hug Lounge, or Refectory. Leave a comment below!

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3 Comments

  • Posted by Treasa Beyer Matysek, '05 | January 17, 2014

    How can I possibly pick just one memory of the Humanities Center?

    I remember the first time I walked into the Humanities Center when my mother and I arrived to get a look at the campus, and I remember admiring the beauty of the building - both inside and out.

    I remember the day I discovered there was a way to get from the Classics Department to the Theology Department without going outside, and I remember how very proud I was when I finally stopped getting lost in the maze of hallways and stairs and doors that led to who knows where.

    I remember movie nights in the Honors Lounge, and I remember posing with my roommates on the beautiful main stairway for a photo I still treasure.

    I remember arriving in the History Department lounge on the morning of 9/11 and having Dr. Leonard tell me to go back to my dorm.

    I remember decorating the Classics Department for Christmas ever year.

    I remember hobnobbing with my Honors Program classmates by the elevator before class started.

    I could go on and on… but perhaps most importantly of all, I remember nervously walking up the three flights of stairs it took to get to the Classics Department on the day I went to ask to be their work-study. It was a walk I would repeat countless times over the next four years, both as a work-study and a student, as the Classics Department became more and more my second home.

    When I graduated with a double major in Classical Civilizations and Fine Arts four years later, I left with more than a degree. I left with friendships and experiences that would change my life. And I left with a heavy heart that I would never again get to work in my little closet of a room in the Classics Department that most people didn’t even know was there.

  • Posted by Jennifer Venegas-Gibbons, class of 2008 | January 22, 2014

    The Humanities building was at the heart of Loyola and my Loyola experience.

    I remember walking into the admissions office when I first came for a campus visit, sitting on the porch the first morning of my summer orientation, being lucky enough to bring my own orientees back to the Hug lounge when I was an orientation leader…

    I remember waiting for Rich to get out of the honors lounge after a long nights of paper writing and, of course, visiting the building as soon as Rich and I were engaged.

    From the beginning, the Humanities building has always been a representation of the home Loyola is to me.

  • Posted by Amanda Licastro, class of 2005 | January 24, 2014

    One of my fondest memories of the Humanities building is the annual send-off for seniors that is held in the great room pictured in the post. I remember drinking wine on the front porch after dinner together, filled with pride that we were no longer just students, but invited as successful graduates to be recognized by our professors.

    Now, as a PhD in English who has taught at the college level for about seven years, I know that pride from the other side.

    The current professors and students must be deeply displaced physically and emotionally by the flood, since the environment fostered by those hallowed halls cannot be replicated in any other building on campus. From the rumors that it is haunted to the iconic Tudor style, it is a one-of-a-kind building I can only hope will return to its former splendor.

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