A new photographic art display in Winter Hall combines the past and present of Westmont’s psychology department. Brittany (Schultz) McInerney ’10 combined photos of current students, historic photos and distinctive diamond-shaped windows panes salvaged from Bauder Hall, which was destroyed in the November 2008 Tea Fire.
McInerney worked as a psychology department lab coordinator the past three years. “It’s been fun hearing what professors and visiting alumni have to say about it,” she says. “Even just seeing the windows or the old black-and-white pictures of the building brings back memories of Bauder Hall, and a visit to the display is inevitably followed up by ‘Aww, how great is this? I loved Bauder Hall. Remember that time when … .’ That’s exactly the reaction I hoped to garner with this project.”
Bauder Hall, which was built in 1929 and served as a carriage house for an estate, featured medieval style architecture, reminiscent of the French countryside. Westmont purchased the four-acre parcel in 1945 and turned the building into men’s dormitories. In 1960, students asked to name the former carriage house after George Bauder, a well-loved house parent and professor. In 1967, Bauder Hall became the offices, classrooms and labs of the psychology department.
Following the Tea Fire, faculty members recovered and stored artifacts of Bauder Hall, which remained in the basement of Winter Hall the past three years. “The main challenge was psychological,” McInerney says. “Many of the windows sustained heavy smoke and water damage. The room in which the windows were stored the past few years is permeated with the smell of charred wood, which was difficult for any of us in the department to handle.”
McInerney, who was a junior when the Tea Fire engulfed campus, aired out Bauder’s charred windows for several days before beginning the cathartic work of scrubbing the smoke away. “That smell will forever transport me back to those terror-filled hours in the gym, so it was quite an emotional challenge to work with windows that smelled like that,” she says. “It was an unspoken requirement for all of us that our lounge would never smell like that again.”
As McInerney leaves Westmont, she says current students have no memory of the Tea Fire or Bauder Hall. “It’s just a name or enigmatic thing to the students,” she says. “So I wanted to bring the history of the department to the forefront. Winter Hall is amazing, and we are able to do so much because of this new space and lab equipment, but we don’t have the legacy we had with Bauder. That was something I was hoping to recreate in a small way by having pictures of the building and the windows up.”