WILMINGTON — Thousands and thousands of motorists over several decades driving east on Main Street have become used to seeing the hand-lettered coming events sign as they approached Wilmington College, while those driving west on Rombach Avenue often caught a glimpse of a long brick monument featuring the name of the institution.
In a few months, that understated, low-key main entrance to Wilmington College by way of College Street will sport a fresh look designed to better demarcate the college’s main entrance and give the area an aesthetic shot in the arm.
The gateway is planned for completion before the start of the 2021 fall semester in August, with work conducted by the architectural firm MSA Design, and Megen Construction.
It will feature both substantive and complementary elements on both corners of College Street where East Main Street transitions into Fife Avenue. The eastern corner will host a brick sign emblazoned with the College seal and “Wilmington College, Founded by the Religious Society of Friends 1870.”
On the western side, a tall monolith will rise from a surface of brick pavers, from which one will also see a brick platform with a large, two-sided, electronic message screen that will be visible to both east and westbound traffic.
Behind both corner fixtures will be brick columns attached by black, wrought iron fencing in a concrete base at ground level. The seven columns represent Wilmington College’s core values: community, diversity, excellence, integrity, peace/social justice, respect for all persons, and service/civic engagement.
Installation of special landscaping will follow this spring’s gateway construction.
College officials worked with the architects in designing a gateway that both reflects the college’s 150 years of history and its modern renaissance. In fact, elements from WC’s two newest facilities, the Center for Sport Sciences and the Center for the Sciences & Agriculture, can be seen in the gateway design.
Also, the brick and wrought iron hearkens back to the college’s original gateway built 100 years ago as a gift from the 1919 graduating class. That historic brick and wrought iron entrance remains along Fife Avenue, but the street on which those entering the campus used for the first half of the 20th century, Whittier Place Drive, is now a sidewalk after it closed to vehicular traffic in 1958.
Much interest was piqued when the college placed a large “Future Site of the New College Gateway” sign at the corner of Main and College Streets late last week.
Elsewhere, the college also posted a sign indicating plans for a formal entrance to the Frank Hazard Arboretum along Elm Street/Martin Luther King Jr. Way, located on the southeastern portion of campus.