Coe plans Whipple Fire House dedication and open house

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2014-09-10 14:18:16 - General

Whipple Fire House

Coe College will host a dedication ceremony and open house for the Whipple Fire House on Friday, Sept. 19, at 1:30 p.m., as part of the college's Homecoming weekend activities. Coe acquired the former Fire Station #3 at 1424 B Avenue NE from the city of Cedar Rapids earlier this year, and the college has renovated and expanded the building into a new residence hall.

The facility is named in honor of longtime Coe trustee and supporter William Whipple, a 1935 alumnus of the college. Mr. Whipple was also a longtime friend of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department and a well-known, active community leader. The Cedar Rapids native passed away in 2010 at the age of 96. Upon the untimely death of his father, he successfully took over the family insurance business, retiring in 1974 as chairman of Frank B. Hall of Iowa. Mr. Whipple then became the first executive director of the Hall-Perrine Foundation and later was named the organization's chairman. A true gentleman of high integrity and character, he believed in giving back to Coe and many other organizations in Cedar Rapids.

Speakers for the program will include Coe Student Body President Cinnamon Moore; Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz; Jack Evans, president of the Hall-Perrine Foundation and a personal friend of Mr. Whipple; and Coe President David McInally.

Originally, the college planned to renovate the existing space for 26 students, using the second-floor bedrooms used by the firefighters and by creating additional rooms in the former truck bays. After careful evaluation, college leaders developed a cost-effective way to add to the second floor of the fire house, thereby creating beds for a total of 37 students.

The Whipple Fire House is not only a new physical facility for the college, but it also houses the college's first living and learning community. According to Dean of Students Tom Hicks, an honors student community has been created at the Fire House. Rhetoric Professor Karla Steffens-Moran, who serves as co-coordinator of the College Scholars Program, maintains regular contact with the honors students who reside in the Fire House.

"Although we have some theme floors in the residence halls, this will be the first true living/learning community partnership between academics and student affairs," said Hicks. "This will provide an innovative way for students to be self-governed and self-directed, while at the same time fostering mutual interests and learning."

Along with student rooms, the Fire House includes a common space and kitchen, which provides ideal space for student interaction.

Coe's bid of $290,000 for the property was accepted by the city of Cedar Rapids, and the college invested approximately $585,000 in the facility for remodeling, the addition and furnishings. The project was funded in part by a generous grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation. The fire house sits in the middle of the college's campus expansion project, which includes the two and one-half block area between 14th Street NE and 15th Street NE along A, B and C Avenues NE. Since early 2006, Coe has acquired approximately 80 percent of the properties in this area.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.