Petrocelli Hall dedicated as University's signature academic building

October 16, 2008

Petrocelli HallRINDGE, NH - Franklin Pierce University dedicated its new academic building on October 16, with a tribute to the alumni family who made it possible and a tour of the three-story structure that offers a dynamic learning environment and technology-rich meeting space for use by the University and the community.

"Petrocelli Hall makes a strong statement that we are committed to advancing a culture of academic excellence and raising our visibility as a superior liberal arts university," University President George J. Hagerty said during a short ceremony that preceded the formal ribbon-cutting. "We are deeply grateful to Attilio and Beverly Petrocelli for the generosity that made this building possible."

Three generations of the Petrocelli family traveled from Long Island for the dedication of the $4.5 million, 23,000-square-foot brick building that will be their namesake for generations to come. Both of Attilio and Beverly Petrocelli's daughters attended Franklin Pierce, where they also met their husbands.

"Franklin Pierce University means a great deal to me and my family," Attilio told guests at the dedication. "My daughters and sons-in-laws still have friends from their time at Franklin Pierce. This is a great place and I humbled and proud to be associated with Franklin Pierce."

The University broke ground for Petrocelli Hall in June 2007. It was completed ahead of schedule this past summer. Construction was made possible by a $1 million gift from the Petrocellis, marking the single largest alumni donation to Franklin Pierce. The balance of funding came from $2 million in bonds and $1.5 million in private donations.

The building houses the arts, humanities and social science departments at Franklin Pierce. It contains classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, meeting rooms, a Mac computer lab, and digital photo and print labs. Faculty began moving into their new offices in August, and classrooms opened for the start of the fall semester.

Bailey Gaffney, a Franklin Pierce junior from Richmond, Virginia, said that students are already enjoying significant benefits from the new building. "We now have one-stop shopping for attending class and meeting outside of class with faculty and advisors," she said, adding that "Petrocelli Hall has the comfiest seats and most-spacious classrooms on campus."

Dr. Gerald Burns, Professor of English, said faculty are particularly excited about the Monadnock Room, a space that was designed around the latest research in effective teaching and learning.

The room contains state-of-the-art technology - wireless computer access, a screen and projector, a DVD player and cameras - all controlled wirelessly through a tablet PC. The furniture is set up for easy reconfiguration so students can work independently or collaboratively depending on the nature of the task. The Monadnock Room is also available for use by community groups.

President Hagerty said while the completion of Petrocelli Hall marks a significant step forward for Franklin Pierce, during construction, the University found a unique opportunity to honor tradition and preserve the past.

Old White HousePetrocelli Hall replaced the White House, a colonial-era farmhouse that served as classroom and office space on campus until its age and structural issues restricted its use. In the process of dismantling the White House, workers were able to preserve a number of the timber frames for potential future construction or display.

The building also yielded an unexpected find - a child's leather shoe hidden in a corner of the building between the wall and floor.

It was a New England folk custom to conceal a child's shoe in the southeast corner of a home during its construction for good luck, according to Dr. John Harris, Director of Franklin Pierce's Monadnock Institute for Nature, Place and Culture.

Child's colonial-era shoeTo honor this tradition and pay respect to the original owners of the White House, Captain Joshua and Mary Walker, the shoe was presented to the Petrocellis who placed it in a case in the southeast corner of Petrocelli Hall for permanent display.