2018 has been a significant year for renovations and campus-improvement projects at Guilford, and The Hut is no exception. Located west of Founders Hall, The Hut is currently undergoing renovations and is set to reopen as Rachel’s Rose Cottage in April, replacing the house of campus ministries with a for-profit coffee shop where community members will be able to gather in conversation.
“Most recently known as The Hut, the venue has served many important purposes throughout the storied life of the College,” said President Jane Fernandes in her blog, “Jane’s Friendly View.” “Soon it will become a re-designed campus spot for conversation and coffee.”
With its renovations underway, The Hut will be renamed to Rachel’s in honor of 1905 alumna Rachel Farlow Taylor, who was devoted to creating opportunities for women to earn a higher education and was a close friend of advocate Mary Mendenhall Hobbs. Taylor’s grandson and Board of Trustee member Fred Taylor Jr. ’77, provided philanthropic support for the renovation project. Renovation plans for Rachel’s also include a fire pit and patio with roses to honor Taylor’s love for roses.
Built in 1903, The Hut is one of Guilford’s oldest structures and has served a variety of functions on campus throughout the years. Most recently, it housed the campus ministry, providing a safe space for reflection, meditation and gathering. The transformation of this space into a different function and name has sparked discussion amongst Guilford community members, including current students and alumni, many of whom have taken to social media to express concerns and share their memories of The Hut.
“What I think the college is missing is that some alumni don’t understand why The Hut, which for many served as a sacred space, needs to be a coffee house,” said Guilford alumna Rebecca Foley on Facebook. “Is it so hard to understand that some alumni might find a coffee house to be a bit too generic for our unique alma mater?”
Many have expressed concerns of such changes and renovations taking away from the campus’ focus on community and values grounded in Quakerism. Director of the Friends Center Wess Daniels responded, reminding Guilford community members of the meaning of sacred space.
“The Quaker tradition teaches that what makes a space sacred is not the space itself but rather the people who gather together,” Daniels said. “In Quakerism, people can gather for worship anywhere.”
Yet, many students and alumni feel that the environment of The Hut cannot be replicated elsewhere.
The recent renaming and repurposing of The Hut has additionally raised concerns amongst Guilford students and alumni alike with the creation of a for-profit coffee shop in the absence and recent closure of the Greenleaf Coffee Cooperative.
The Greenleaf Coffee Co-op was started in 2003 in the Mary-Hobbs Residence Hall off of a $20,000 grant from Student Activities. However, it was later moved to Milner Hall.
The student-run Greenleaf resided in Milner Hall until renovations in the Hall for the 2018 to 2019 academic year forced the closing of the co-op’s operations on campus. Guilford currently has no plans for the Greenleaf to reopen, as Rachel’s will be taking its place on campus.
Through thick and thin, the Greenleaf kept its place as a campus mainstay amongst students and other community members up to the spring semester of 2018. Students across campus became involved in the Greenleaf because of the community it created.
“I got involved in the Greenleaf because I was spending my freshman year holed up in my room, and I wasn’t okay with that,” said Colleen Hayes ‘12, who became involved with the Greenleaf in her sophomore year. “I stuck with it because I really enjoyed it, and the people here.”
The Greenleaf was devoted to cooperation and teamwork since its inception. Contrary to the new for-profit coffee shop set to open in Rachel’s, the Greenleaf was run as a cooperative business, in which consumers control the price and availability of products. The co-op was originally created to provide an alternative space on campus, trying out a new business model.
“The loss of the Greenleaf was a major blow to campus,” said junior Dylan Caldwell. “I feel like this new coffee shop won’t be able to achieve the same importance and standards of the Greenleaf.”
Community members argue that much of the original sentiments and values instilled in the Greenleaf are absent from the new coffee shop set to open in the previous Hut space.
“I really think The Hut and the memories that were made there are irreplaceable” said sophomore Austin Brooks. “While it may just be a small building, I’m sure that its original state will be missed.”