Published: Fall 1995 in Feature Story

Keeping Up Kerrwood’s Appearance

At the time, washing the huge arched windows in Kerrwood Hall seemed like a chore. Maggie McKee Dorsey faced this task as a Westmont student whenever her youthful high spirits led to an encounter with the dean of women. Discipline in those days often involved “hard labor.”

Today she thinks the hours of cleaning gave her a love for the building and a desire to preserve it. A member of the board of trustees since 1989, Maggie has made caring for Kerrwood and its grounds a primary interest.

“Both Westmont’s identification and a historical landmark, the old estate has such elegance,” Maggie says. “It’s the thread that connects past and present students. Restoring the house is a tremendous undertaking—the needs are both superficial and structural—but we must bring it back to its original stateliness.”

To achieve this goal, Maggie and fellow trustee Bill Kerr and his wife, Beverly, have redecorated Hieronymus Lounge. Installing new carpeting and furniture and building new bookshelves over the old, boarded-up doors have transformed the lounge.

Maggie has also worked her magic on the room across from the president’s office. Renovating it has uncovered the lovely, vaulted ceiling of the old loggia. “Creating false ceilings to save heat and hold fluorescent lights has obscured a lot of architectural details,” Maggie notes.

She enjoys looking for hidden treasures around the building. “I found a fireplace with hand-painted tiles in a room near the switchboard,” she exults. “I also discovered another beautiful fireplace behind a wall in the financial aid office.

“I want Kerrwood to reflect the experiences of Westmont people,” she explains. “It should embody warmth and caring and the vitality of intellectual pursuits—and help us remember the past.”

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