Allegheny College President James H. Mullen, Jr., announced that the college has received a $7 million challenge gift from Henry and Patricia Bush Tippie to renovate Bentley Hall, the college’s oldest building and the site of its first formal classes.
The Fund for Bentley Hall Challenge, a dollar-for-dollar match, already has generated an additional $6.5 million in gifts from other donors. Fundraising continues for the remaining $500,000 of the project cost.
“We feel very fortunate that we are able to offer a matching fund, and we are grateful for everyone who has joined us thus far with their gifts,” said Patricia Bush Tippie, a 1956 Allegheny graduate and a trustee emerita of the college. “Besides restoring the building and refurnishing it, this match will also provide an endowment for future maintenance. The endowment will ensure that Bentley will forever be our beautiful Bentley.”
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, Bentley Hall is recognized as one of America’s foremost examples of Federalist architecture. Construction of the building began in 1820 and was completed seven years later. It is named after Dr. William Bentley, who donated his outstanding private library to the college after its founding by the Rev. Timothy Alden, Jr., in 1815.
Bentley Hall has served a variety of functions over the past two centuries, most recently housing administrative offices. Each year, Allegheny’s graduating class walks through the doors of the building as part of the commencement ceremony — a tradition that project leaders are planning to continue even while renovations are taking place.
“I am deeply grateful to Pat and Henry for their generosity and their vision to secure Bentley Hall’s place as Allegheny’s most historic and iconic building — honoring its past while ensuring the promise of its future,” Mullen said. “This renovation includes upgrades that align with Allegheny’s steadfast commitment to sustainability and restorations that will preserve Bentley Hall’s rich architectural tradition while equipping the building with modern technology.”
The Tippies are long-time supporters of Allegheny. The Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center at Cochran Hall was restored a decade ago through one of their gifts. They also have endowed three professorships — in art, economics and English — and an experiential learning fund at the college. In addition, they have funded a scholarship for students from New Castle to attend Allegheny.