For nearly 80 years, the Alumni House has greeted students, guests and alumni alike to UNCG’s campus with its inviting facade, stately front porch and graceful entrance.

But that sturdy, walnut door isn’t original to the house.

By the mid ‘90s, the original door was in terrible shape. With years of direct sunlight, the door had begun to disintegrate. Virginia Edwards Hester ’39 and her husband, L.B., donated the replacement door that stands there today. It was dedicated in 1999 – 60 years after Virginia graduated from Woman’s College.

Virginia says they found out about the need through her dear friend, Adelaide Holderness ’34. Holderness brought up the topic one afternoon over lunch at the Hesters’ Chatham County farm on the Deep River.

L.B. mentioned that he had some walnut lumber from the farm that had been stored and air dried for roughly 40 years, and the couple offered to have the wood fashioned into a door they could donate to the Alumni House.

“It was a thick door,” Virginia said.

Unfortunately, L.B. wasn’t able to see the finished door installed because he passed away in January of 1997.

“It was L.B.’s door,” Virginia said.

Since the door was installed in the late ‘90s, it’s undergone renovations twice – once in the mid to late 2000s and again this past summer.

The entire Alumni House underwent renovations between the fall of 2006 and spring of 2008, when the door underwent some significant changes.

“When the renovation took place, it had to be reversed and turned the other way,” Virginia said, adding that an updated fire code mandated that the door open outside rather than inside.

More recently, the door was “showing some damage and wear,” said Alumni House Manager John Comer. So, over the summer, the door was removed and received some much-needed care.

“All the hardware was taken off. The door was completely stripped, and then it was stained and refinished,” Comer said, adding that the door was treated with five coats of a special UV-blocking finish to protect the door from the harsh sunlight.

When Virginia visited the university in October for Founders Day, she had a chance to take a look at the newly renovated door.

“It looks perfect,” she said. “When I drove up, I thought it looked absolutely fabulous.”

 

Story by Jeanie Groh, University Relations
Photography by Martin Kane, University Relations