At the dedication of the McHugh Sisters Flats on August 23, 2015, something even brighter than electric lamps lit up the hallways and rooms of the elegantly appointed building: the smiles of Salem College students who were seeing their new residence for the first time.
Squeals of joy echoed through the building when the students opened the doors of their new suites.
“I am shocked. I am overwhelmed,” said Calleah Solomon, a senior from Raleigh.
Reporter Lisa O’Donnell, who was covering the event for the Winston-Salem Journal, observed Solomon’s reaction and wrote:
“Solomon held a hand against her chest, as if to steady a racing heart.
“Her friend and suite-mate, Kadijah Ward, also a senior, promptly whipped out her phone and began shooting video of the suite to send to a friend.
“‘It exceeds expectations,’ Ward said. ‘It’s amazing.’”
The students had every reason to be thrilled with their new home. Each flat in the apartment-style building has a full kitchen and living area, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The sitting areas are decorated with stylish furnishings and brightly colored fabrics. Large windows welcome in abundant natural light and provide expansive views of downtown Winston-Salem and the surrounding historic neighborhood. A great room, porches, and patios offer common areas that encourage socializing and collaboration among the students.
The alumnae, faculty, administrators, trustees, and others who attended the dedication clearly shared the students’ enthusiasm. And for good reason. McHugh Sisters Flats signals a new era at Salem.
The $6 million, 32,000-square-foot building is the first new student housing construction at Salem in fifty years. It was necessitated by Salem’s record growth in enrollment, and it adds approximately ninety beds to the College’s residences.
As Salem President D. E. Lorraine Sterritt aptly put it at the dedication, the McHugh Sisters Flats are “a major milestone in the history of this extraordinary institution.”
Located on the north end of campus, the new residence connects Salem to the vibrant life of downtown Winston-Salem. The design of the building also gracefully connects Salem’s future with its storied past. “The building was designed to reflect many elements found in Salem’s rich Moravian architecture,” said Anna Gallimore C’99, vice president for administration and special assistant to the president. “We have repurposed and reinterpreted old materials in new and modern ways.” For example, the design of the gate that joins Main Hall to South Hall, a gift to Salem from the class of 1906, inspired the decorative ironwork pattern on the new building’s Juliet balconies. The mansard roof matches those of the neighboring Fogle Flats, which were constructed in 1896. Light fixtures that are a contemporary twist on the Moravian star adorn the great room. Repurposed architectural elements from the Starbuck House, which was constructed on the site in 1914 and removed to make room for McHugh, connect the new residence to the history of the site. Four fireplace surrounds and mantels salvaged from the Starbuck House grace the lobby, the great room, and the hallways. And students can gather at the great room conference table, which craftsmen transformed from a five-panel door that served occupants of the Starbuck House for 100 years.
It has been said that Salem does not design and construct buildings to last for decades, but rather for centuries. McHugh Sisters Flats continues that tradition with panache and exquisite taste.
“It is the most beautiful college residence I have ever seen,” says President Sterritt.