McKendree University has started to build a fancy new gate that will make sure visitors and students know that they have arrived at the 185-year-old campus.
"The new entryway monument will make a bold statement to visitors and welcome them to McKendree University," school president Jim Dennis said of the red brick arches and fountains that will help separate the school from the surrounding neighborhood.
McKendree spokeswoman Lisa Brandon said school leaders hope that the entryway monument, which will display both the university's name and its founding year of 1828, will serve as a backdrop for graduation photos and other snapshots such as when parents drop off students freshman year.
School leaders are considering making the monument the place where the commencement lineup begins, starting with the class of 2014. Brandon said it also is expected to be a meeting place on campus.
The monument will be built at the corner of Alton and St. Louis streets on property where two houses that were earlier purchased by the school used to stand. The homes were torn down over the summer.
When completed, the monument will feature a brick archway and a circular patio area with dancing water fountains. It will have both a stairway entry and a wheelchair accessible ramp.
The monument will be surrounded by hundreds of plants. But school leaders said they were unsure whether the planting would get done in the fall or would have to wait for spring.
School leaders declined to say how much the new monument will cost. McKendree is a private institution. Brandon said the money for construction came from private donations, not tax dollars.
The entryway was designed by Arcturis of St. Louis and is being built by Holland Construction of Swansea. It is expected to be completed by October.
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