Education

UK opens renovated Patterson Hall, honors female pioneers

University of Kentucky students walked out of a renovated Patterson Hall between classes Monday. A dedication ceremony was held for the building.
University of Kentucky students walked out of a renovated Patterson Hall between classes Monday. A dedication ceremony was held for the building. palcala@herald-leader.com

The University of Kentucky has reopened one its historic buildings after a $15 million facelift. Patterson Hall will now be a classroom building, an administrative center, and a symbol of women’s progress at the state’s flagship school.

Patterson opened in 1904 as the first women’s dormitory, authorized by the General Assembly to be “off campus” and away from male students. UK officials also used Monday’s ceremony as a dedication for the four new residence halls that sit around Patterson, naming them for some of UK’s first female leaders.

“It is important that we not forget the legacy of those pioneers and then how we cast the buildings around it to further remember that we didn’t just have a founding father at the University of Kentucky,” President Eli Capilouto said. “Our history is built on the endurance and perseverance of — what I like to say — ‘our founding mothers.’”

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UK tore down three older dorms named for these women, along with an 1880s Italianate house, to build two new residence halls on the corner of South Limestone Street and Avenue of Champions. Limestone I will become Holmes Hall, named for Sarah Bennett Holmes, UK’s dean of women from 1942 to 1957. Just behind Holmes Hall, Limestone II becomes Boyd Hall, named for Cleona Matthews Boyd, a classics teacher and president of the UK Woman’s Club for 25 years.

A block away, two dorms that opened in fall 2014 also were renamed. Champions Court I will be Jewell Hall for Frances Jewell McVey, who taught in UK’s English department from 1915 to 1921, until she married UK President Frank McVey.

Champions Court II will be named Georgia M. Blazer Hall, who served on the UK Board of Trustees from 1939 to 1961. The current Blazer Hall is being used only as a dining center and is to be razed in 2018.

Patterson Hall will be the administrative center of UK’s themed dorms, known as “Living Learning Communities.” It also has 18 classrooms, plus informal and formal meeting spaces. About $10.7 million of the Patterson renovation was paid for by Aramark, UK’s food services contractor.

Linda Blackford: 859-231-1359, @lbblackford

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