If These Walls Could Talk

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us” – Winston Churchill

In 1931, the Board of Trustees named the administration building for one of its own, Livingston Johnson, who was said to be “the foremost Baptist of his generation”.  While Meredith’s other buildings are essential to college life, our students and faculty are at the heart of our school, and this particular building’s significance is due not only to the people who occupy it, but also to the decisions made there–decisions that affect lives and culture of past, present, and future Meredith students.

While Meredith has built many new buildings since the dedication of Johnson Hall more than 80 years ago, this is the building that students and community members identify as the heart of Meredith College; through the years, it has remained the identifying edifice of our school.  It’s the building we visit as perspective students and return to as alumnae.  It’s where Valentine’s Day flowers were delivered to sweethearts in years gone by, where parents and families come to pay visits to students who need to see a familiar face from home, and where key decisions are made for the school.  Like gentle soldiers, our class dolls stand guard on Johnson’s third floor to remind us of our past and present; a continuum of beauty and scholarship that grows each year.

The architecture of Johnson Hall, along with other campus structures of the same generation, is described as “an example of Beaux-Arts classicism in a Georgian vein, with its use of red brick, limestone trim, white painted exterior woodwork, and generally neoclassical vocabulary and proportions”, as stated by Dr. Mary Lynch Johnson in History of Meredith.  While its classical beauty is undeniable, many of our alumnae think of it as a home away from home in many ways.   Johnson Hall is where we are feel ‘at one’ with our school and with each other.

Indeed, if the walls of Johnson Hall could talk and share the history they’ve seen, they would tell us about the myriad of changes they have witnessed through the years.    With each new class of graduates they have seen us grow from a small school to a well respected women’s college whose alumnae have achieved great heights of success; from education to scientific, research, medicine, law, and business.  In a world of constant change, it is reassuring to know that we have the constancy of Johnson Hall to look to as a symbol of our school.  The walls of Johnson Hall seem to say to us, “wherever you go in the world, always remember; I’ll be here waiting for your return”.

– Elizabeth Dove, ’84, President, Meredith College Alumnae Association

Photo of the Week

Johnson Hall, Meredith’s main administration building.  The front steps of Johnson Hall were later removed in 1956.

Meet the new President: Dr. Jo Allen, ’80

The Meredith College Alumnae Association invites you to join us at one of Dr. Jo Allen’s upcoming Presidential Reception Events.  Below you’ll find a list of Dr. Allen’s upcoming events.  We hope that you’ll join us at one near your hometown!

If you would like to RSVP to any of these events, please contact the Office of Alumnae & Parent Relations at 919.760.8548 or alumnae@meredith.edu.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

As always, keep an eye out on the alumnae calendar for new dates and events. 



Fall 2011 Presidential Receptions & Events:

Thursday September 29th – 6:00pm – Wake County Chapters Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen – at the Massey House

Wednesday October 5th – 6:30pm – Chatham/Orange County Chapter Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen – at the home of Nancy Joyner, ’58

Monday October 17th – 7:00pm – Guilford County Chapter Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen – at the home of Patty & Gene Lamb

Thursday October 20th – 6:30-8:30pm – Mecklenburg/Gaston County Chapter Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen –  at The VanLandingham Estate Inn and Conference Center

Monday October 24th – New Hanover County Chapter Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen – at the home of Freda & Lucien Wilkins

Wednesday November 9th – Henderson/Oxford Area Chapter Event & Reception honoring Dr. Jo Allen – at the Henderson Country Club



Beth Leavel, ’77 to host workshop for Meredith students

Tony Award winner Beth Leavel, ’77, will present an audition workshop for Meredith College theatre students on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in Carswell Auditorium. The workshop is open only to Meredith students, but others are welcome to observe from the audience.

Leavel’s most recent Tony nomination was in 2011 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her work in “Baby It’s You!” In 2006, Leavel won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Leavel is an accomplished Broadway actress, dancer and singer. During her senior year at Meredith she decided to pursue an acting career. While a student, she performed in Meredith productions “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Blithe Spirit,” “The Bald Soprano” and “Cabaret.”

She received her degree in sociology from Meredith, and then earned an MFA at UNC-Greensboro. Leavel first gained national exposure as an understudy to Lucy Arnez in “I Do, I Do,” which led her to a role in “42nd Street,” where she appeared in its Broadway production, its National Touring Company and a run in Japan. Later she starred in “Crazy for You” as Tess and as Ellie in “Show Boat.”

-Melyssa Allen, Marketing

Photo of the Week

Unidentified Meredith students are spotted checking out books in the library.  At this time, Meredith’s library was located on the second floor of Johnson Hall.  In 1969 the library moved into its own building: Carlyle Campbell Library. Carlyle Campbell Library was named for Meredith’s fourth president.  To read more about the history of the Meredith College library, click here.

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