Heating plant complex moved for Williams Center

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

The Williams Center is built on the site of the old heating plant-maintenance complex. Central to it was a tall 80-foot smokestack.

The plant itself was oil fired and when it was demolished the boilers were salvaged and sent to Stony Brook. The boilers from Gregory Hall would also be sent elsewhere and reused. Both could be refurbished by relining them with brick. (How’s that for a piece of trivia.)

Adjacent to the heating plant were garages and shops. They were only 7 years old when they were torn down. Obviously architect I.M. Pei didn’t want something like these next to his designs. The advantage of having this facility in the center of the campus was ease of travel rather than the one mile one has to travel now. It is interesting to note that the new heating plant is scheduled to close as heating returns to the individual buildings. There are even plans to drill gas wells on campus.

Reed Library is at the other end of the spine. It is faced with a massive set of stairs that is minimally used. It was supposed to lead to the main entrance but like Thompson and McEwen its users had other ideas. In the recent rebuilding and addition a new entrance was literally carved out facing Mason Hall. The apron in front of the door covers the base of the old quadrangle flagpole. (There is some interesting footage in the film “Spotlight on Fredonia” showing this empty quadrangle.)

The Fredonia Library has had an interesting growth history. It moved from “Old Main” to Fenton in 1952. (Old Main Library became the campus school-education library.) Mason Hall already had its own music library.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.