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Construction continues on Newton Chapel


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Loud drills, fenced off grounds and huge orange construction equipment have attracted even the most oblivious eye to Newton Chapel. The former Tattnall Square Baptist Church has been a part of Mercer University’s history since 1978 in honor of Dr. Louie Newton. The chapel is known for holding religious services and various events inside its corridors, but what many people may not realize is that the chapel has a twofold purpose. In addition to the Chapel, the attached Newton Hall contains extra classrooms for students to utilize.

Over the years, Newton Hall’s usage has died down significantly. According to Dr. James Netherton, the executive vice president for administration and finance, the hall used to have roughly 150 students utilize the offices. While it started as a place for students – especially music students – to study or practice, the hall now is barely visited by any students. Netherton admitted that people rarely, if ever, go into Newton Hall at all. However, as the student population has decreased in frequenting Newton Hall in the past few years, the overall faculty and student population has increased exponentially. In response, Netherton advanced the planned 2019 Newton Hall remodeling to 2014.

“Newton Chapel’s staying the way it’s always been for a while, but Newton Hall must be renovated for the development of the school”, Netherton said. The exponential progression of student population has pushed Mercer’s administration to seek radical progression for development on campus as well. In the next four years, Mercer’s plans for the University include a new science building, residence hall and Newton Hall.

“The old Newton Hall was deteriorated,” Netherton said, “and in need of serious attention. We could have torn down the whole building, but as a historical community, we respect the old.” Thus, Mercer is in the process of totally gutting and redoing Newton Hall. Attached to the chapel will now be 32 new offices, five reception areas, new restrooms, a conference room, a sprinkler system and extra stairs. The landscape around the building will also receive a major transformation; like the recently-built Cruz Plaza, the area around Newton Chapel and Newton Hall will be surrounded by a grassy plaza, wooden benches and more functional sidewalks for the benefit of students. Instead of the awkward sidewalk and parking area across from the McCorkle Music Building, there will be one big sidewalk for students either walk across or drive their cars on.

Because of its planned completion date of fall 2015, Newton Hall will become a “flex space” for the teachers and staff during the construction of the science building and residence hall.  Netherton’s plan for the hall focuses on both providing teachers with a nicer place to relocate while buildings are being reconstructed and giving students another place to socialize and study.

“The chapel has and will always be a special place on Mercer’s campus,” Netherton said. “With the redone hall, the special events during Homecoming, conferences, religious services and marriages will accentuate the grandeur of memories we wish Mercerians to make.”

The University’s goals center on making campus the best possible home for each person who comes on its grounds.

 

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Construction continues on Newton Chapel