July 19, 2010

Home again in Gilman Hall

Faculty, staff return to renovated building after two-plus-year absence

If these Gilman walls could talk, they would have said, “Welcome home.”

After more than two years away, the School of Arts and Sciences’ humanities faculty moved back into the extensively renovated Gilman Hall earlier this month. The building was re-populated from the top down, starting with the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures and ending with the Writing Seminars and the English Department.

Photos by Will Kirk/Homewoodphoto.jhu.edu

A moving service relocated computers, furniture, filing cabinets, office machines and other items for the nearly 200 faculty, staff and graduate students over a nine-day period. Eager to set up shop, dozens of faculty arrived during the move to unpack books, fill desk drawers and tack up personal mementos.

Wilda Anderson, a professor of French literature, was one of the first back. By late Thursday, July 8, Anderson’s bookshelves were nearly filled with works from Sherlock Holmes to contemporary science fiction.

Anderson described the building as “beautiful” and was happy to have a Gilman office again. She and most other faculty had been relocated during the renovation to Dell House, a university-owned high-rise on the corner of North Charles and 29th streets.

Matthew Roller, chair of the Classics Department, said he hardly recognized Gilman Hall.

“In a sense, it’s quite disorienting,” Roller said. “There are new rooms, new spaces. The whole interior is so utterly transformed. It’s lovely, and it really is like a completely new building.”

Roller has a corner office on the 100-level floor. He said he enjoys his new space but quickly realized he would not have nearly enough books to fill the steel bookshelves that reached to the high ceiling.

“In my old office, I had extensive oak bookcases that were filled with books that belonged to the department, many useless ones left behind by professors,” he said. “I never really had space for my own books. It’s liberating to have this blank space, but it’s going to be a challenge to make use of those higher shelves. We’re all puzzling over that [laughs].”

Roller and others said they look forward to all the faculty returning from summer vacations so that the department members will all be together again.