Maryville College plans to move its Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices into the former U.S. Bank branch across from Blount Memorial Hospital this summer.
The building at 826 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway already is on campus property. In 2006, the college leased it to Bank East, which U.S. Bank acquired in 2012. The branch closed in 2019, and when the bank’s lease expired recently, ownership of the building reverted to Maryville College.
“The 4,600-square-foot facility, which is in good shape, offers the opportunity to house these staff members together under one roof, whereas they are currently split between Willard House and Alexander House,” Maryville College President Bryan Coker wrote in a memo to the campus community. “Furthermore, this building can be easily accessed by visitors, especially those with mobility issues, and provides us with additional frontage and visibility on the increasingly traveled Highway 321.”
The 12 employees of the Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices, which include Church Relations, are expected to move after building updates. The college plans to add walls for additional offices and remove the drive-thru teller window and night deposit box. A fiber optic cable will be laid to connect the building to the college’s network.
The college plans an open house for its new Office of Institutional Advancement when COVID-19 health risks are lower.
According to the president, freestanding locations for Admissions staff and services are a growing trend on college campuses, one that recognizes the importance of enrollment functions and the need to provide prospective students and families with a positive lasting impression.
“Many of us believe Willard House, with its history, architecture and exceptional views of the mountains and athletic fields, would make a very fitting location for a welcome center, as well as our Admissions staff and services,” Coker stated.
Erected in 1890 as a memorial to Dr. Sylvester Willard of New York, the Queen Anne-style Willard House was the home of the college president and his family from 1891 until 1951. In the years that followed, it served as home of the dean of women and also as a residence hall. In 1982, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the college’s historic district.
Willard House’s last major comprehensive renovation was in 1988, and Coker indicated that it would need one again to become a “showcase space.”
“The timing for these renovations and the Admissions relocation will depend on the scope of necessary renovations, as well as fundraising progress,” he wrote in the memo. “As we all know, new and/or updated spaces for the Natural Sciences and Behavioral Sciences divisions as well as Athletics remain our top fundraising priorities, but an Admissions Welcome Center presents a philanthropic opportunity that will be specifically meaningful and attractive to donors who may not be inclined to contribute to other projects.”
“We are excited about the collaboration that will result from staff members of these two community-focused entities working in close proximity,” Coker wrote, adding that discussions are being held about the future use of Alexander House.
The original home of alumnus and longtime board member the Rev. John Alexander and his wife, MC English professor Jane Bancroft Smith Alexander, Alexander House was built in 1906 and donated to the college through the couple’s estate. The white house is behind the physical plant and Gamble Hall, on the hill behind the former bank building.
“The goal of our capital projects is to effectively utilize our physical resources for the fulfillment of our mission, as well as the overall advancement of the College,” Coker wrote to the campus. “Please stay tuned for additional updates in the coming months, as we endeavor to responsibly plan and build for our future.”