On Saturday, Sept. 29, Waynesburg University will formally dedicate the Willison Residence Hall and hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Robert C. Wiley Armory. Waynesburg University faculty, staff, students and members of the local community are cordially invited to attend the events.
The dedication of Willison Hall, located on the corner of Washington and Franklin streets, will take place at 11 a.m. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Robert C. Wiley Armory, located on Washington Street, will take place at approximately 11:20 a.m. (immediately following the residence hall dedication) and will be followed by an Open House. Members of the campus and local communities will be able to tour the facility until 1 p.m.
Willison Residence Hall
Willison Residence Hall houses 140 students in 70 rooms located among six floors. A private bathroom and an independent climate control option are located within each room. The building is also equipped with two elevators. Additional space for a sofa and a micro-fridge is available in the rooms which measure 20 feet by 20 feet.
The Robert C. Wiley Armory
A familiar name to the history of Greene County, Robert C. Wiley was a Waynesburg University (then College) alumnus who enlisted in the Army during World War II while still a student of higher education.
Buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, Wiley led his company into battle on August 13, 1944, near St. Lo, France, where he was killed by a German sniper.
According to the official citation awarding him with the Distinguished Service Cross, Wiley pulled his company together on August 3, after they had become disorganized after hours of fierce fighting. Though he had suffered a painful wound to his cheek from small arms fire, Wiley “refused to be evacuated and personally led his company into a strongly employed enemy position and succeeded in capturing the objective," the citation reads.
Less than a week later, during a firefight in which most of Wiley's officers were either killed or wounded, Wiley himself was “severely wounded” in the leg from machine gun fire. Despite the injury, Wiley “brilliantly directed the actions of this company and personally led it forward 800 yards under heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire until he was killed by sniper fire.”
According to the order, “Captain Wiley's gallant leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 28th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.”
To honor him, Greene County named its local Armory, a historic structure built in 1914 residing at the intersection of Washington and Strawberry streets in Waynesburg, the Captain Robert C. Wiley Armory. Modern day demands of the community and the Pennsylvania National Guard Company B, 1-110th Infantry Battalion unit recently grew too large for the squat, red brick building. So when Company B decided to move to a larger, newer facility in Evergreen Technology Park located in nearby Franklin Township, Waynesburg University expressed interest in purchasing and updating the Armory.
The University recently gave new life to the 98-year-old structure, making it the third oldest building on Waynesburg’s historic campus. Anchoring Waynesburg’s campus are two buildings older than Robert C. Wiley Armory - Miller and Hanna Halls, both of which are buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, built in 1851 and 1874, respectively.
Located near the University’s Willison Hall and the Fitness Center, the Armory seems an almost natural extension of the campus, said Roy Barnhart, the University’s senior vice president for finance and administration.
Like Miller and Hanna before it, the Armory was renovated to be utilized while still maintaining the historic nature of the structure. By purchasing and renovating the Armory, the University ensured the building, which has been an important part of the local community for decades, didn't fall into disrepair and disuse, Barnhart said.
The gymnasium within the Armory was renovated and became home to the University wrestling program. The Student Health Center, previously located in a house on the corner of Morris and First Streets, relocated to the Armory, along with offices of the University's Information Technology Department, while its data center remains in the Paul R. Stewart Science Hall.
The interior was refurbished, the flooring was painted and refinished and the drill hall received a significant facelift as well, with the suspended ceiling removed to expose the original domed ceiling underneath.
The basement level was gutted, Barnhart said, in order to accommodate the new infirmary. Electrical and plumbing upgrades throughout the building were also completed. The look of the exterior remains virtually unchanged except for improvements necessary for handicap accessibility. Other work included re-pointing the brick, upgrading the box gutters and repairing the soffit and fascia.
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