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Cheney Hall (RG 120)

Cheney Hall

Under the leadership of President Wilbert E. Locklin, ground was broken in June of 1967 for construction of a new dining hall on campus. The facility, financed privately by the college, would be able to serve 2400 students during a meal period, or 800 at one sitting. This building would replace the existing cafeteria in Woods Hall, which had a serving capacity of 950 per dining period and only 300 per sitting.

The cost of the 26,500 sq. ft. facility was $950,000. The Architect for the building was A. P. Casella of Agawam. Ley Construction Co. of Springfield was the general contractor. The original single story rectangular structure was 178’ 8” wide and 123’ deep. A semi-circular wall curving outward at the front added 45’ to the depth of the structure. The curve of the wall continued into the main part of the building, fortifying a circular central dining area 124’ in diameter. Originally there was a covered portico, supported by 13 columns that followed this curve. This portico provided shelter and shape to students. Later in 2005, this portico was used in the expansion of the dining hall and now serves as pleasant and extra seating for the cafeteria. The kitchen is located behind the dining rotunda. There were two separate smaller dining areas that were used for faculty and staff as well as special functions. The smaller room, also called “The Gold Room,” was 17’ by 13’, while the larger room, also known as “The Grumman Room,” was 31’ x 63’ and could be separated by a folding door into smaller rooms. These rooms could seat 40 and 110 persons respectively. Today, these rooms are simply called Cheney rooms A & B and are still used for special functions such as Maroon Athlete of the week lunches.

Construction was completed in 10 months and the new facility opened on April 1, 1968, and the building was dedicated on June 15, 1968. The building was dedicated and named in honor of Ralph L. Cheney, class of 1901, and R. William Cheney, class of 1933 who were very influential at Springfield College and beyond. The plaque unveiled at the dedication said, “Cheney Hall In honor of Ralph L. Cheney, ‘01 Professor R. William Cheney, ’33 Dean of Students, Father and Son. June 15, 1963”

Ralph Cheney, 1889-1964, was a 1901 graduate of Springfield College. Following graduation, he pursued a career with the YMCA. Cheney returned to Springfield College in 1907 as a professor of sociology and in 1910 added the Duties of Director of Secretarial Course. In 1924 Cheney returned to YMCA at both the National and International level. In 1937 Ralph Cheney was a recipient of the Tarbell Medallion.

R. William Cheney, 1909-1965, graduated from Springfield College in 1933. Cheney, following in the footsteps of his father, entered YMCA work. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946. Following his discharge, he returned to Springfield College as Director of Admissions and Professor of Guidance. In 1953 Cheney became Dean of Students. Dean Cheney died in 1965, working in Africa at the University of Liberia while on leave from Springfield College. R. William Cheney was awarded, posthumously, the Tarbell Medallion in 1966.

Beginning in fall of 2004 with a corporately funded grant, Springfield College and Aramark set out to organize a complete renovation of dining services to better suit the needs of the students and the college. The majority of the renovations would consist of completely gutting the existing structure of Cheney Hall and reworking the area into a more spacious and comfortable setting for students to dine in. Meals would be prepped in a more of a restaurant made-to-order manner, with the chefs right out in the open instead of in the back rooms. Storage would be held to a minimum and deliveries would be made on a daily basis to ensure the highest possible level of freshness for meals. Some new ideas include a brick oven pizzeria, a fresh bakery, and a northern foods station. The grill, pasta station, and salad bar will likely make a comeback with some remodeling.

Beginning the day after graduation and over the summer 2004, the whole building was gutted down to the rafters. All of the power, electrical wiring, and the old heating and air conditioning systems were taken out and rebuilt from scratch. The result was a more expansive seating area complete with two different levels and many different stations to get food. The Northern Station features home-cooked foods and dinners, Café Roma serves Italian food like pizza and pasta, the American Bakery offers baked desserts and breads, the deli has hand-made wraps and a salad bar, and the Cheney Grill remains, still offering things like grilled cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. There are also places to pick up cereal, soft-serve ice cream, and coffee.

One of the more controversial changes to the new dining hall was the changes made to the meal plans. Previously, each food item was charged separately. With the new changes, students now had to pay for a meal on entry to Cheney and could choose to eat as much or as little as they pleased. However, meals could no longer be taken out of the cafeteria. Each meal plan consisted of a certain number of meals a week and a separate amount of dining dollars to spend in the Beverage Center (BC) where Subway, Java City, and Freshens were moved. Students could also use dining dollars to order Domino’s Pizza that could be delivered to campus. Furthermore, glass plates, plastic cups, and metal silverware cut down the trash output of the building. Springfield decided to make such drastic changes in order to keep up with other colleges.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents the planning, construction, and use of Cheney Hall. The collection includes general information about the hall, floor plans, news articles, an original plaque in honor of Ralph L. Cheney and R. William Cheney, and photographs. The bulk of the collection is the photographs. These include many photographs of the exterior and interior of Cheney Hall before the latest renovations. There are also copies of a sketch or rough outline of the sports Wall Mural eventually put up near the dish return station dated August 2004 (the artist name was cut off and can only make out Garrett McCar…). Outline includes notes of plan. The final wall mural was different from this outline.