To a drum roll and applause from more than 100 onlookers in downtown New London, Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron snipped a ceremonial ribbon Thursday to open the city’s newly restored historic Manwaring Building, which will now serve as the College’s first downtown residence for students.
“The magnificent transformation of this building is so important,” Bergeron told state and local leaders, city business owners and residents, and Conn faculty, staff, trustees and students gathered for the historic occasion.
“For years, we have dreamed about what it would mean for our students to be living downtown. And this summer, at long last, that dream is becoming a reality.”
The Manwaring Building project will help the College meet immediate student housing needs prompted by the largest incoming class in Conn's history; offer a new dimension to student life; provide expanded opportunities for community engagement and academic programming downtown; strengthen Conn's relationship with its host city; and contribute to the economic revitalization of New London’s historic center.
Next week, 60 upperclass students will move into 16 unique apartments and five multi-level townhouse units featuring high ceilings; large, historic windows restored on-site and by hand; original wood flooring; and sleek, modern kitchens. (A journalist for The Day newspaper noted that a running joke among the public officials and community leaders “was how they would be enrolling at Conn to get a chance to live there.” NBC Connecticut also took viewers inside the building.)
Originally built in 1913, the Manwaring Building, located on State Street in the heart of the city, was designed by notable New London architect Dudley St. Clair Donnelly and is listed as a National Park Service landmark. The former commercial space, which had not been occupied for several years, was rehabilitated in accordance with a program approved by the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service.
San Francisco-based High Tide Capital, which owns the building and oversaw its restoration, boasts that the 21 units the College is renting “combine the vitality and grandeur of old New London with modern luxury, flair and convenience.”
New London Mayor and Conn graduate Michael Passero ’79 M’89 said the project was a result of a “great partnership” between the College, High Tide Capital and the city.
“What a great moment for the city of New London,” he said. “Our partnership with Conn College goes back to 1911 when the residents of this city raised the money to purchase the property for the College to be established … and now we are bringing the students downtown. It’s a great moment for us.”
Bergeron said that “spirit of creativity and innovation” has long served as a foundation for the partnership between the College and its host city.
“More students are being drawn to New London than ever before,” she said. “So many of those students are excited about the opportunity to learn more about what this city has to offer. Others have already developed their own connections to the city through their work with our wonderful Holleran Center for Community Action.
“I know that student life in Manwaring will strengthen our connections in untold ways, and I personally cannot wait to see this new chapter in our history.”