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Lettie Pate Evans Foundation Gives Washington and Lee $1 Million for Colonnade Renovation

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation has given Washington and Lee University $1 million toward the renovation and restoration of Newcomb Hall-the first of the historic Colonnade buildings to undergo the extensive improvement planned for all of them.

Work on Newcomb, once the W&L library and more recently classrooms and faculty offices, began in May and is to be completed within a year. The cost, including a maintenance endowment, technology and furnishings, is more than $10 million. The Evans grant complements contributions from alumni and trustees. An earlier grant from the Getty Foundation enabled the University to undertake initial planning.

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation makes grants to specified public charities in Georgia and Virginia. Its grant program emphasizes private secondary and higher education, arts and culture, and museums and historic preservation. Traditionally, it gives preference to one-time capital projects and to other extraordinary needs of well-established organizations with proven ability to meet their annual operating budgets.

The foundation was established in 1945 by Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans, who was the wife of Joseph B. Whitehead, one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola. After Mr. Whitehead’s death in 1906, Lettie Pate Whitehead assumed management of his business affairs and served as director of The Coca-Cola Company for almost 20 years. She remarried and moved with her husband, Col. Arthur Kelly Evans, to Hot Springs, Va.

The restoration of Newcomb Hall will subtly upgrade infrastructure, including wiring and air conditioning, and will maintain characteristic Newcomb features such as fireplaces, chalkboards and a large, glass-roof lantern that once again will provide natural light to the top floor. Newcomb has been the most heavily used academic structure on W&L’s campus.

The renewed Newcomb will be home to the history and sociology-anthropology departments and the teacher-education program. Reconfigured space will contain faculty offices, a computer lab and rooms designed for classes, seminars and group study.

Fund-raising continues for the overall Colonnade project, estimated to cost $50 million and take at least five years to complete. Foundations are expected to continue to play an important role in providing necessary support.