More room to party

1:17:41 PM CDT - Thursday, December 21, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Plating food for relatively small sit-down dinners in the garage of the president’s house and washing dishes in rubber tubs in the basement will become a thing of the past when the WSU president’s house is expanded next year.

The president’s home, which is located on the edge of campus at 1820 N. Hillside and was built for $21,000 in 1938, will be expanded through private funds after the first of the year. The last major expansion of the house was in the late 1950s when Harry Corbin was president. The WSU Foundation is raising the funds for the project. Bids for the project will be requested after Jan. 1, so a total renovation cost will be unavailable until after that process, according to WSU and WSU Foundation officials.

The building addition will provide 2,000 square feet of new space and will include a catering kitchen, restrooms and storage. As residents of the home, university presidents entertain large groups of students, alumni, community, state and university guests in both the house and in the garden setting. Current residents Shirley and Don Beggs, for example, have hosted as many as 540 at a scholarship tour of the house, and had receptions for 110 people and sit-down dinners for 30.

There have been enormous difficulties when hosting larger numbers of people because the home does not have adequate entertainment space.

“When we entertain even a group of 12 for dinner, there is not room in the residential kitchen for preparing food, plating it for serving and cleaning,” said Shirley Beggs. “Therefore, we plate on additional tables set up in the garage and carry all the dishes to the basement to wash in large rubber tubs.”

If even fewer than a handful of people are added to the dozen coming for dinner, the logistics become even more challenging. To bring up extra tables from the basement, the legs have to be removed to fit through the staircase and doors, explained Shirley Beggs. Family furniture has to be removed from rooms, as well. “Usually it’s a three-day process for a large sit-down dinner or for a buffet,” she said.

“We see this improvement to the president’s home to be important to not only Shirley and Don Beggs, but also to future presidents and spouses of our fine university,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the Foundation. “The ability to entertain in their home is a wonderful enhancement.” King noted that a select number of donors have been approached and asked to give to the project, in addition to their support for academic areas.

Shirley Beggs agreed that the end result will be worth it. “We know there will be days when we will want to run away, but we must focus on the long range project and the end. It will make my life so much easier. This, however, is not for us. It is for the university for years and years to come.”

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