One of the iconic spaces at Webb to which all of us have a strong attachment is the Lenfest Gallery, also known as the Main Hall. We can still remember the first time we walked into the hall and saw the impressive collection of half-models, the vaulted ceiling, and the rich woodwork. We are sure many of you share the same feeling. Who can forget the OD station, the stairs at each end heading up to the classrooms and dorm rooms, the view through the main entrance to the reception room out to the Sound, and the entrances to the dining room and the reading room? Some of us still look for the old telephone booth at the west end. The gallery is the gathering place for students, alumni, parents, visitors and guests. Who would ever dare to change any familiar detail?
Well, actually, … we would. It’s time to make some changes.
Whereas Webb is an institution with its roots dating back 125 years, our express purpose is to prepare young men and women for the future. When prospective students, parents, and visitors step into Lenfest Gallery, they should be introduced to our inspiring legacy while at the same time sensing the excitement of the dynamic, innovative maritime and offshore industries. That is the goal of the renovation of the Gallery.
After two years of consulting with alumni, trustees, faculty and students, we have established the following plan. The main features are as follows:
1.Renovate the physical walls. The models will be taken down and safely stored, enabling the repainting and restoration of the space. Scratches, mars, dents, and cracks on the woodwork will be repaired and restored.
2. Install a timeline of William Webb’s shipyard that will extend along the north wall (that wall common with the main reception room, on the Sound side), complemented by half models of ships built at Mr. Webb’s shipyard arranged in chronological order. Jay Carson ’73, Professor Richard Harris, and librarian Pat Prescott have prepared text to explain the history and significance of each model.
3.At each end of the south (courtyard) wall, install a large screen monitor. One will display current events, information, and the plan of the day. The other will display the major giving group donors which are now on a wooden plaque. Along the interior sections of the south wall, artifacts, paintings, and technology exhibits will be displayed on a rotating basis
4.Install contemporary models, one at each end of the gallery. These won’t only be ships but will at times include offshore platforms, drilling rigs, or offshore wind turbines. A monitor will display a movie or other descriptive information on these technology exhibits.
5.Install a new OD station that will provide a place for our security staff as well as a place to welcome visitors.
Some of these changes will be accomplished by this Homecoming; others will take longer to pull together. These changes are being funded by a combination of revenue sources. One source is the fee earned for hosting the filming of the “Wayne Manor” scenes for the pilot of a Batman TV series named “Gotham”. The large screen monitors and other technology related items will be funded by the Richard B. Couch ’33 Ship Design Computer Lab and Enhanced Classrooms Fund.
We look forward to seeing you at Homecoming 2014 where you will be able to view the progress made in renovating the Lenfest Gallery. If you have any questions about the renovation plans, please do not hesitate to contact us.