Over winter break, Eastern added to the size and beauty of its already alluring main campus. On Dec. 10, Eastern acquired the estate of Dr. Henry Mayer, which sits next to Kea Hall along Eagle Road. The $1.25 million deal involved a substantial gift from Dr. and Mrs. Mayer.
“They [the Mayer’s] were very generous,” Senior Vice President Tom Ridington said regarding the finances of the transaction.
Built in the mid-20th century by J. Howard Pugh, founder of Sun Oil Company, the Mayer property includes a gorgeous two-story house and yard connecting it to Eastern and Fenimore Park.
As part of the deal, the Mayer’s will continue to live on the property until May.
Dr. Mayer, a cardiologist practicing in Bryn Mawr, has had a long-standing relationship with Eastern and specifically Vice President Jim Rogers. Rogers, a neighbor to the Mayers, became acquainted with them years ago due to interest in their house.
The use of the property has yet to be determined although many ideas are circulating. According to Rogers and Vice President for Development Derek Ritchie different departments would like to see the property used for offices. The university’s ongoing parking problems could also be aided by an additional number of spaces being added on the Mayer property. However, the beauty of the property will make any drastic changes to its structure unlikely.
“I don’t think that it’s a property that’s a tear down,” Rogers said, regarding the possible ways the university can use the Mayer property. “It’s a high quality place.”
Rogers added that changing the house into a dormitory would be highly unlikely.
Although the use remains undecided, in a prepared statement from the President’s Office Ridington and President Black proposed, “… that the property be used as a shared space for technology and reception.”
With the deal completed, a punch list of tasks remains in order for Eastern to fully realize the value of the property. Eastern is working on getting the property rezoned from residential to institutional and made tax-exempt. The property setbacks also need adjustments so that changes can be made along the previously existing property boundaries.
Ritchie noted how the property acquisition will connect Fenimore Park to the university more directly. “This is really going to open up a flow of traffic between the campus and the park.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Rogers said. “It’s a beautiful property.”