Thomas Cloister To be Open in Time for Lantern Night

Posted September 29th, 2011 at 1:58 pm.

When the class of 2015 receives its lanterns on Sunday, Oct. 30, in one of the College's most cherished traditions, the ceremony, like more than 100 before it, will take place in the Cloister, says Bryn Mawr Engineer Jim McGaffin.

The Cloister has been closed since renovation work on Thomas Great Hall began in March of this year and was originally scheduled to remain closed until at least December.

"We had mostly dry weather for much of the summer and the crews working on the building have been working hard. So even though we ended up doing some additional work on windows that we hadn't originally planned, it looks like we'll be able to wrap the project up a little earlier than expected," says McGaffin.

The current renovation project originally focused on repairing the 20 separate roofing areas on the building, pointing and stone replacement throughout the building, and structural repairs to the arches above the cloister walkway.

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Nguyen

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Nguyen

While the work was being done, a number of windows proved to be in need of immediate repair, and window replacement was added to the project.

"In doing this work, we discovered that some of these windows really needed to be addressed sooner rather than later," says McGaffin. "Since the scaffolding was already in place, it made sense to go ahead and do the work now."

McGaffin estimates that the College saved at least $150,000 by making use of the existing scaffolding to replace the windows instead of waiting and paying to have it erected a second time.

In all, 210 steel-framed windows were replaced. The sashes, frames, hinges, handles and other hardware were taken to a Philadelphia workshop to be restored. The original lead windows were replaced with a laminated piece of solid glass with lead caming applied to each side to mirror the appearance of the old glass.

"Updating windows on an historic landmark is always a balancing act between maintaining history and improving performance. We did a lot of research into how best to approach these windows and are very happy with the outcome," says McGaffin.

Lantern Night was first held in the cloister in 1906, which was about the time that portion of Thomas was built and ready for use, according to Bryn Mawr Archivist Lorett Treese.

"But Lantern Night itself is an earlier tradition; lanterns were first presented to freshmen by sophomores in 1886 at an event where freshmen were 'quizzed' on their opinions as a sort of welcoming entertainment," adds Treese.

" How the fall welcoming ceremony developed is mentioned in an editorial in the first edition of the college student publication called The Lantern, published in 1891. Unfortunately it does not mention where these events took place prior to 1906," she adds.

The Newly Renovated Cloister

The newly renovated Cloister

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