Wofford Environmental Studies Center
(This article is used with
the permission of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Originally
July 30, 2009. Written by Gary Clancy. Photograph by Mike Bonner.)
John Lane could soon become the only
professor in America who kayaks to work.
Lane, an English professor, is director of Wofford College's new
Glendale Shoals Environmental Studies Center, which was completed this
week after seven
months of construction to restore the old cotton mill office along the
of Lawson's Fork Creek.
Following a stunning $1.2 million face-lift, the building will house
Wofford's new environmental studies major and minor program, which
began in the spring with two introductory courses and will go into full
swing next month for the
"This is a dream teaching space," said Kaye Savage, the new academic
program director who arrived in Spartanburg three weeks ago from
Vanderbilt University. "All the years that I've been teaching and
collected samples in the field, you could never come right back and do
what you needed to do, and here we've got it. It's the best setup in
America, I'm sure, for this kind of thing."
Wofford students will be able to gather water, plant and sediment
samples from the river, walk up the hill, hang up their waders in a mud
room/sample processing room and then put the samples under a microscope
in the lab.
"We'll be identifying various plants, analyzing water samples for
contaminants and comparing it with other areas around the watershed,"
Savage said. "It's going to be a long-term project to survey and
characterize this place, what type of contaminants may have built up
around the dam and the (environmental) impact of recreational
The program will take a strong interdisciplinary approach, with an
emphasis on science, social science and humanities, in order to give
students an understanding of various perspectives on environmental
issues and the ability to effectively communicate to different
audiences, Savage said.
This aspect appealed to Wofford rising senior Carrie Baker, who will
become the program's first graduate next spring.
"I just feel like there will be a lot of different opportunities opened
up for me because of it being a broad major," said Baker, who
switching her major from biology to accounting last spring before the
program came along.
"With all of that background, plus all the other classes I've taken, I
just feel like I'll be set to go in any direction that I want to go in."
PIECES OF THE PAST
The LEED-certified renovation of the building was designed by Donald
Love of the Spartanburg firm McMillan, Smith & Partners. Love
is an expert in historical restorations who also designed the
renovation of Wofford's main
building in 2006.
The center's community room will host classes, seminars, special events
and the Santee Cooper Lecture Series on Sustainability and Energy
Open to the Wofford community, students from Spartanburg County public
schools and interested residents, the lecture series will bring in
speakers from around
the world twice a semester beginning this fall.
An adjoining room, meanwhile, will serve as a library.
In it is restored furniture from the original mill office, including a
cabinet that Lane thinks was probably built by a carpenter at the mill
about 110 years
ago, as well as an original mantel.
"It's amazing that it survived and that it wasn't salvaged," Lane said.
The building also features much of the original flooring. And all the
signs for the center's private-donor acknowledgements are being made
from recycled slate from the old roof of Trinity United Methodist
Church in Converse Heights.
A stroll outside the building reveals an oasis for nature lovers -- a
rushing river for kayakers (including Lane, who lives just upstream
from the center), a recently completed half-mile walking trail created
by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation and a planned vineyard and herb
and vegetable garden. Owner Glyn Morris donated the former mill office
and three acres of surrounding property to Wofford last year to develop
the ES center.
"This is the first time this side of the river has opened up (to the
public) in more than 100 years," Lane said, "so it's pretty exciting. I
really do think that once we get (the whole area) established it's
going to be our (version
of Greenville's) Reedy River Park."
The Spartanburg Area Conservancy owns 13 acres of land across the river
and is establishing the site as a riverfront park, while the PCF owns
river's six-acre flood plain where it has developed the Glendale
"We like to think of it as a 23-acre classroom, because we have 23
protected acres here," Lane said. "We're looking at this property as
one big piece of
property, so even though we'll all have our own pieces of it, we'll all
access to all of it."
The Goodall Center continues to win
honors. On March 29, 2012, the
Center received the Exemplary Project Award from the U.S. Green
Building Council-South Carolina Chapter. The award recognizes
outstanding projects with the ability to inspire others to pursue
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Read the full story at Goodall
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