Union College finally has a front door. For more than 20 years, the college considered ways to create a welcoming entrance that would increase its visibility in Lincoln and provide a landmark for visitors. This year, the dream finally became a reality. The college dedicated the new front entrance located at the intersection of Prescott Avenue and 48th Street on September 30.
“We aren’t the only ones excited about the grand opening,” said Stephanie Meyer, coordinator of the dedication event. “Our neighboring businesses in College View are thrilled to see the project completed and the extra attention and energy it will bring to our community.”
For 126 years, Union has played an important role in the economic growth of Lincoln, but with trees blocking views of the buildings and no front entrance, the campus was easy to miss. “Union College is proud to share a rich history with College View and the city of Lincoln,” said Vinita Sauder, president of Union College. “The new front entrance signifies our ongoing commitment to our neighborhood and to building awareness about our campus for those who pass by on 48th Street. I’m often told Union College is the ‘best kept secret,’ but we’d prefer not be to a secret any longer.”
The new entrance consists of decorative brick walls, signage and landscaping along 48th Street. The walls grow into arches over the sidewalk on either side of Prescott Street, visually connecting Union and its sister organization, the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church. Representatives from the two organizations will cut ribbons on both arches during the ceremony. Among those speaking will be Sauder, Kate Bolz, Nebraska state senator for District 29 which includes Union College, and George Gibson, historian and professor emeritus.
In 1890, Lincoln was selected as the site for a new Seventh-day Adventist College, beating out bids from sites in several neighboring states. To fund the campus, Union built and sold houses on the surrounding property—and the College View neighborhood was born. The College View Adventist Church was established in 1890 as Union was being built. Initially meeting in a barn and then on campus, the church constructed its first building in 1894. The village of College View grew quickly thanks to the economic impact of the college and easy access to downtown Lincoln via an electric trolley line–cutting edge technology at the time.
Union continues to serve Lincoln in a variety of ways including monthly foot clinics at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, an annual service day where approximately 800 students serve more than 50 organizations around the city, and partnering with the American Red Cross to support fire victims and provide disaster response services. In addition, Union’s indoor pool and fitness center, Larson Lifestyle Center, provides more than 2500 swimming lessons each year to Lincoln kids—more than any other provider in the city.
As part of the dedication, a time capsule containing messages from students, employees and alumni was buried near the entrance to be opened in 2050. “Our greatest hope and goal is that nobody ever opens it,” said Rich Carlson, vice president for spiritual life. “Our greatest joy would be for us to all be in heaven by then. But if God in his mercy is still waiting, it will be a fun thing to see in the future.”
For photos of the event, visit the Facebook album.
By Maren Miller, student writer