Freed-Hardeman University celebrated the latest renovation of Paul Gray Hall during Homecoming, Friday, Nov. 11. Constructed in 1929, the men’s residence has undergone an extensive renovation funded by FHU NEXT, an ongoing capital campaign for campus improvements. The dorm reopened to welcome students this fall, providing needed housing as the number of on-campus residents has been increasing.
The dorm houses 82 students in a variety of room arrangements: single rooms, two-person suites and one four-person suite. Common areas and shared bathrooms are available on every floor. A conference room and a guest room have also been added. The renovation cost approximately $4 million. The total includes funds for a parking lot currently under construction.
“Paul Gray Hall has been the first home-away-from-home for young men for more than 90 years. Preserving this architectural gem has sparked those ‘I remember when…’ stories since the renovation began,” FHU President David R. Shannon said. “This home has been beautifully renovated and updated. We thank each donor who has helped move this historic residence into the hearts of future students. Her glory days are back!”
FHU First Lady Tracie Shannon assisted with decorating the common areas and the guest room. A special touch is an art piece designed by alumna Kristi Montague, featured on the back wall of the first-floor lobby. She digitally composed old photos of students and Paul Gray Hall with handwritten scriptures from many students who lived in the dorm throughout the years. The mural covers the wall one immediately sees when entering the lobby.
A Telechron 201 wall clock found in a basement storage room has been returned to its original place of honor in the lobby. An image of the clock was captured in the 1929 Treasure Chest, the college yearbook, as well as in a photo album of Mrs. D.D. (Mamie) Woody, Paul Gray Hall’s first dormitory matron, according to Rodger Holtin. In the 1970s, it was discovered by Jim Murphy, former dorm supervisor and dean of men. He had it refurbished and returned to the lobby. At some point, the clock disappeared once again, only to resurface in the basement storage room when the dorm was being cleared for this latest renovation. As an antique electric clock, it will require a modicum of maintenance, Holtin said. It is now operational but will need to be reset when the nation returns to daylight savings time.
Standing at the intersection of Main Street and White Avenue, the historic building is a familiar feature of Henderson’s downtown. “Paul Gray Hall has been a landmark on Henderson’s Main Street for almost a century,” Henderson Mayor Bobby King said. “We are thankful for the FHU donations, planning and work that have once again filled this historic building with students who have made Henderson their college home!”