Home News Room of Edwardian Mansion aka White Hall designated for GRCC students

Room of Edwardian Mansion aka White Hall designated for GRCC students


There are times that even libraries don’t seem quiet enough, especially on a college campus. Computers whir, keyboards clack, cell phones buzz and groups of students talk their way through group projects.

Imagine a room specifically built for one purpose: to read.

The former living room of the Edwardian Mansion offers a quiet reading area for students.

The White Hall Reading Room is one room in the Edwardian Mansion at Grand Rapids Community College. Built in 1907, it was later purchased during at same time as Sneden Hall in June 2009. GRCC renovated and preserved the building keeping as many aspects of the beautiful architecture as possible.

Stuart Edward White, for whom the building was named, was fond of literature. He was an author of 70 books between 1901 and 1940, many of which were westerns. When White Hall was known as home to the White family, their spare time would be spent choosing books from their library to read in this very room.

“The whole room was built for reading,” Robert Hendershot, Associate Professor of History at GRCC, said. The room has tall windows on two walls that allow it to be lit with natural light. There are an assortment of comfortable chairs and couches for readers to enjoy.  The room has a nobly reserved aura that enchants book worms and scholars alike.

Prior to the reading room being open to students, it was occasionally utilized for meetings by the faculty and staff. Most days, the room sat empty.

“I thought it was a terrible shame,” Hendershot said.

So in January 2012, Hendershot proposed that it be designated as a reading room for students to enjoy at their leisure.

Hendershot himself was once a student at GRCC. He fondly remembered a beautiful, quiet room in the main building where he could go to read and study. He thought students might like something better. GRCC has several study rooms at Sneden, but there is something about White Hall Reading Room that is different.  “I think it’s unique. It’s not a comparable experience,” Hendershot said. This room is a “guaranteed quiet zone.” Hendershot believes it has more to offer than traditional study rooms.

The reading room itself is about 100 years old, making faculty very skeptical of allowing it to be used by students. However, it is Hendershot’s belief that “students return the trust we put in them.” The three departments housed in White Hall—Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Social Sciences—all agreed to Hendershot’s proposal.

“People are all very busy,” Hendershot said. “Where you live it’s hard to find peace and quiet at times.”

Already students have begun to enjoy the new reading room. “It’s nice to see people using the room. I like to go in there and read myself,” Hendershot said.

Chelsea Fender has been visiting the room since the beginning of fall. “I like it because it’s not bland and it feels warm and nice and peaceful,” Fender said.

Tessa Vitt visited for the first time and happened upon the room by chance. “It feels old-worldly,” Vitt said. “It’s a comfortable, quiet place to read. And a lot quieter than the library.”

The purpose of the  room is strictly for reading or quiet studying. Food, cell phones, computers, and socializing are strongly discouraged.

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