Workers have been busy throughout the summer with the renovation and addition to Whipple Fire House, with the new residential facility set to open in the fall of 2014. Coe took possession of the former fire station at 1424 B Avenue NE from the city of Cedar Rapids.
Originally, the college planned to renovate the existing space for 26 students, by 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 will also house Coe's first living and learning community. According to Dean of Students Tom Hicks, an honors student community will be created at the Fire House. Rhetoric Professor Karla Steffens-Moran, who serves as co-coordinator of the College Scholars Program, will maintain 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 will provide ideal space for student interaction.
A dedication and open house of the new Whipple Fire House, named in honor of longtime trustee and Coe supporter William Whipple '35, will be held during Homecoming weekend.
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.