October 24, 2018
Recently, the West Chester Downtown Foundation (WCDF) recognized the University with its Bricks and Mortar Preservation Award for the careful and continual rehabilitation of Ruby Jones Hall.
WCDF’s website explains that these honors “may be awarded to recognize construction projects of exceptional quality that have a positive impact on the preservation of West Chester’s historic fabric.” Ruby Jones is included in WCU’s Quadrangle Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally opened in 1899 as the Demonstration School, the building served as an elementary school for faculty children and the West Chester School District. It now houses classrooms plus faculty and staff offices. Following extensive renovations to the building in 1978, it was named in honor of Ruby Johnson Jones ’40, who returned to her alma mater in 1961 to teach until her retirement in 1972. She was West Chester University’s first faculty member of color.
The building is not only a testament to the University’s beginnings as a teachers’ college; it is also a recognition of the regional architectural practice of using serpentine as a veneer. The green-hued, locally quarried serpentine stone on the building’s façade was once popular but poses maintenance problems, as some of it is soft and negatively impacted by acid rain.
WCDF acknowledged the University’s efforts to ensure Ruby Jones Hall stands the test of time, noting, “To sustain the historic structure as an active campus facility, West Chester University has undertaken a long-term rehabilitation campaign. Work completed since 1999 includes: general interior renovations; replacement flooring; repair of interior finishes; general façade repairs; foundation damp-proofing; new porch roofing; upgraded HVAC systems to connect with the 2012 campus-wide geo-thermal system infrastructure; 2016-2018 serpentine stone restoration; and 2017 restoration of architectural trim at frieze. … West Chester University is recognized for their ongoing commitment to historic preservation by carefully restoring and maintaining this iconic campus structure.”
WCDF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that promotes community interest in the vitality, culture, and livability of Downtown West Chester through education, preservation, and collaboration.