The future of Perkiomen School: Schultz Hall demolition makes way for new student center
Gratitude, excitement, and anticipation are creating shock waves on Perkiomen’s campus with the official start of the construction for Phase I of the Our Moment to Lead Campaign. On March 24, Schultz Hall, home to hundreds of students over nearly 6 decades, witnessed a ceremonial goodbye.
“Schultz Hall served a great purpose. Beneath the surface of an aging building were a lot of memories. We are tremendously appreciative of what it stood for during its time,” reflects Mark A. Devey, Head of School.
Before demolition began, members of the Campaign Committee, faculty, staff, and students were present “to be connected one last time and show gratitude for Schultz Hall’s service to our community,” Mike Foux, Executive VP for Finance & Business Development shares. Its removal is a symbolic nod to what is to come. It will be the sight of Perkiomen’s future: a space dedicated to community-building, innovation, and the ever-changing need for authentic, vibrant spaces to live, learn, and play.
Located in the heart of campus, the site which previously housed Schultz Hall will become home to a 20,000 square-foot student center and campus hub. A location intended for multiple visits from each campus member throughout the day, it is designed with multiple spaces for a plethora of purposes.
“It will serve you for the reason you’re going there, but you’ll also be drawn into other activities while passing through,” shares Mr. Devey. “Boarding students will feel at home and day students won’t want to leave!”
There will be spaces to study and meet in small groups, a spot specifically intended for eGaming: to connect, compete, and have room for an audience to observe! There will be quiet corners intended for reflection and large windows inviting in the outdoor greenery behind a live sporting event on the athletic fields. Students can also meet with a college counselor, work at the TV studio, have an impromptu jam session with some friends, check in with the Assistant Head of School for Student Life, just to name a couple of features.
Born of a creative think-tank of passionate stakeholders, Mr. Devey describes, “What began as a place to get a snack has resulted in the vision of a hub for your own engagement. It will bring people together and create the social interaction that creates memories and drives the things that we value most as human beings” … This includes good food! A teaching kitchen will allow students and faculty to demonstrate recipes and learn about one of the most essential parts of each of our lives. Also important to the overall vision of this project is the opportunity it will create for expanding other programmatical spaces, allowing physical growth and room for resources and equipment for both the visual and performing arts, not only in the new student center but also in Kehs Hall.
“If you are driving past campus this spring and summer, you can expect to find an evolution of ongoing site improvements,” explains Mark Emswiler of Emmaus Constructors, Inc. Walkways leading to the center of campus will be reconfigured, new lighting will be installed, and the landscaping will be improved. A renovated entrance to campus will include a circular driveway allowing a safer, more fluid drop-off location for day students and visitors. Whether you have a walking student or bird’s eye view, the campus will flow aesthetically with the eventual student center serving as the very heart of a residential community in motion. If you’re watching from home, keep an eye on Perkiomen’s website for a camera capturing time-lapsed footage of the progress! Prior to the demolition of Schultz Hall, many preparations were made to ensure safety in and around the demolition. Safety precautions will continue for the duration of the project, including when ground is broken for the new student center itself.
Perkiomen’s family of employees, alumni, friends, and parents have historically shown up for this community, and is doing so once again, as we begin OMTL Campaign, a $30 million vision that encompasses the whole school – new spaces for arts, athletics, and engagement with unexpected opportunities, as well as essential investments in the annual fund and a stronger endowment. Mr. Devey shares, “This early in the campaign we have already exceeded our goals for the endowment. That speaks to people really caring about the long-term health of the school and this facility.”
Our work is not yet complete on the fundraising front! While we have made great progress to get to this point, this is our most ambitious campaign in Perkiomen School’s history. We still have more money to raise to break ground on the structure. To promote, celebrate, and acknowledge the support from within our community, naming opportunities for the many campaign priorities are being offered.
Someone who knows a little something about nostalgia, legacy, and impacting the future of an institution is Scott Schultz, a 1983 Perkiomen graduate, former Board of Trustee member, and co-owner and President of Emmaus Constructors whose grandfather, great aunt, father, aunt, niece, and children attended Perkiomen! Mr. Schultz (of no relation to its namesake!) lived in Schultz Hall for three years when he was a student (Incidentally, his father owned their family business when it was the contractor for Schultz Hall, Ruhl Hall, Hollenbach Athletic Center, and what is now the Hollenbach Middle School building). Shares Mr. Schultz: “Perkiomen has changed immensely over the years. It has only gotten better! It is a wonderful place to grow up. The teachers and the staff are like a surrogate family. When I was a student, it was like being home.”
When ground is broken on this historic new student center, it will begin a fresh chapter for Perkiomen, while continuing that feeling of home for everyone on campus. It will also recognize the desire of students to move fluidly between studying and socializing, being creative and reflective, building relationships with one another and their faculty, and, of course, acknowledging a desire that will undoubtedly unite many generations of Perkiomen students to come: enjoying good food together.
*All photographs were taken by a professional photographer. Following professional photography guidelines, masks were only removed briefly to take the photo, then put back on.