Rutgers-Camden on Tuesday dedicated a gloriously restored 19th century mansion that will become “a 21st century writing center,” in English department Chairman Tyler Hoffman's words.
But despite its exuberantly eclectic architecture, the 3-story, 6,500 square ft. structure had been vacant and deteriorating for more than a decade when the university began a $4.2 million renovation project two years ago.
Hoffman and Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon said the Writers House will include classrooms, meeting space, and a design lab for digital writing programs.
The house is expected to begin full operations in 2016; plans also call for eventual construction of a rear addition that would allow the building to accommodate the entire English department.
About 60 people attended the festivities, during which the names of Walt Whitman – whose former home is a short walk away – as well as Camden's own haiku master, Nick Virgilio. Like Whitman, Virgilio rests at the city's Harleigh Cemetery.
But as of Tuesday, the Rutgers-Camden Writers House was looking very much alive.