Allegheny College Celebrates the Rededication of Restored Bentley Hall

Allegheny College celebrated the rededication of the restored Bentley Hall, the college’s oldest building and the site of its first formal classes, at a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Constructed in the 1820s, Bentley Hall underwent an extensive interior and exterior renovation that was formally launched in October 2018. The renovation was designed to preserve the building’s historic character while incorporating modern features and technology. The project meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards, supporting the college’s nationally recognized commitment to environmental sustainability.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, Bentley Hall is recognized as one of America’s foremost examples of Federalist architecture. The building 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.

In August 2018, the college announced that it had received a $7 million challenge gift from Henry and Patricia Bush Tippie to support the renovation of Bentley Hall. The last major renovation of Bentley Hall had taken place nearly a century ago.

“The Tippies’ $7 million challenge sparked additional gifts that ultimately exceeded that challenge, allowing the project not only to proceed, but to come to fruition,” Allegheny College President Hilary L. Link said in remarks at the rededication ceremony.

Patricia Bush Tippie, an Allegheny graduate and trustee emerita, also spoke at the ceremony. “I want to thank all of you who stepped up and donated to the Bentley campaign,” she said. “Not only did your gifts restore Bentley, but we now have a $1 million endowment fund that guarantees that Bentley will be taken care of for years to come. That is very exciting to me.”

In her remarks, Tippie noted the leadership of Allegheny trustee Christine Scott Nelson in chairing the Fund for Bentley Hall Challenge. In addition to encouraging others to contribute, Nelson made a gift to fund a sustainable geothermal heating and cooling system for the building.

Tippie also acknowledged the dedication and tireless work of Cliff Willis, who managed the renovation as Allegheny’s director of major capital projects, and Allegheny alumnus Jonathan “Jed” Miller. Miller played a key role in researching the building’s historic features and designed many significant elements of the building’s interior.

Project architect MacLachlan, Cornelius & Filoni, Inc. brought extensive experience with historic renovations to the design and planning. Bentley Hall marked the sixth major project on the Allegheny campus for lead contractor Massaro, Inc.

The rededication ceremony concluded with the singing of the college’s Alma Mater by members of the Allegheny Choirs, under the direction of Professor James Niblock. Following the ceremony, guests had the opportunity to tour the building and learn more about the renovation.