Construction on Bowman Hall is underway in 2023

Bridgewater College renovates main academic building, Bowman Hall

Bridgewater College students will notice dramatic changes in Bowman Hall when they return to campus on Oct. 4 after the fall semester break.

The first phase of an $8.5 million renovation of the campus’s main academic building will be finished, and the basement and first floor will reopen. The redesigned classrooms and faculty offices will be flexible and better able to facilitate interaction between students and faculty, says David W. Bushman, president of the small, private college in Rockingham County. All four floors of the 70-year-old building will be impacted.

“We’re really thinking about the kinds of changes you need to make, not just to improve technology and furniture in the classroom, but how they make a classroom,” he says. “How does the classroom building really support student learning and advising and interaction with faculty?”

Bowman houses seven undergraduate and three graduate programs, and most students have at least one class there. Renovations include multiple outlets for digital devices, numerous flat screens to display presentations and web content, and chairs and desks on wheels that can be rearranged for collaborative work.

“Interactive learning is the coin of our realm these days,” says Provost and Executive Vice President Leona A. Sevick. “We talked about the spaces as being [makerspaces], not just spaces where students are sitting back and passively learning.”

Lantz Construction in Broadway, which has worked on several of Bridgewater’s buildings, began renovations the day after spring commencement. Work on the second and third floors will be completed in the summer of 2024. The building will be 26,710 square feet when the renovations are finished. About 300 square feet will be lost due to HVAC and sprinkler systems upgrades, says Kristy Rhea, who is overseeing the project and is the college’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

All classes will remain in Bowman, but some faculty offices have been relocated temporarily. They’ll be grouped by department when they return, and their offices will open into advising suites for students.

Renovations are expected to be totally funded by donors, including a nearly $2 million gift from the late Dr. Garner H. Downey, a 1947 graduate, and his late wife, Mae Frances.

“We’ll have the formal dedication and ceremony next August, but students and faculty will benefit from some of these renovations right now,” says Bushman. “We’re excited about that.”

This article by Cathy Jett was published September 23, 2023 on

Photo caption: An air handler unit is delivered to Bridgewater College’s Bowman Hall on October 7th as part of an extensive renovation project that includes HVAC and sprinkler system upgrades and a redesign of classrooms and faculty offices.