Today during my time at the Univ of IL Writing Project, I participated in a Writing Marathon. We broke down into nomadic teams. Each team would wander campus; find a place to be inspired by; and freewrite for a time before sharing and moving onto a new location.
It’s s new car smell. Note quite the one you get from a rented car from Avis or Enterprise. There’s a blend here of new paint, too, that might confuse you, making you think you’re sitting in fresh, leather seats. No, while Lincoln Hall’s auditorium may not have the European pleasures of a BMW, it sure has a new Lincoln’s upholstery smell — the one that reminds you of the rare days when a grandparent took you for a stroll in their new Town Car. Students will find no doubt find new comfort in the new seats.
Gone are the days of the falling plaster (well, so long as the fresh paint keeps it sticking together). The tiled ceiling has various (visible) flowing patterns now, lending a cloud-like look to the gold ceiling, and the restored detailings beam as greater inspirations of the work and wonders that go on above our heads. To the undergraduates burdened with “general” education requirements or introductory/survey classes, now, with the weaving pattens clearer to all, unfractured and brought to new life, one can appreciate again the connectedness that the true meaning of “liberal” education promises.
The contrasts of gold may have been more striking had the new green paint along the hall’s massive walls been darker. One old hall, to some, may have appeared cracked and thus broken, deep in its bones. Many copper pennies could have served Lincoln’s character more strongly than the building standing on the quad just a year or two ago. Others may have seen the (now lost) creaks in the wood floor as a history untold by the passing of so many students and scholars. The fresh paint, fixtures, seating and unblemished technology is seen more often in the institutionalized engineering and business halls than it does across the liberal arts colleges.
Excuse the quality; I took these with my iPhone. It’s much more grand in-person.
In my own time at the University, I remember sneaking into the Lincoln Hall Theater to say hello to a professor who had led a study abroad trip to Rome that first introduced me to international travel. This was the last time I was in the Hall, surrounded by its carvings inspired, no doubt, by much of the art I had seen with my own eyes in Italy. I remember looking around during his lecture to see so many students checked out and gazing, perhaps trying to make out figures in the wet spots on the plaster that roof leaks had caused. Of course, this must have been so much more interesting than the lecture on Greek mythology.
The steps up to the grand hall should serve as no burden, now, with the promise of royalty. Lincoln’s head will return eventually, but I trust the home is in good hands now that I have seen the work myself. Truly, the flagship school has served its state well by restoring the Lincoln Hall, doing justice to a legendary man devoted to reading, introversion and inquiry.