The creation of a new “front door” for Wabash College began in 2016 when plans for the City’s Stellar Communities Downtown Loop Trail project were being finalized and prepared for funding from OCRA.
The Downtown Loop Trail will commence on the east side of South Grant Avenue in front of the Wabash Fine Arts Center and continue north to Wabash Avenue, then east to Walnut Street, and north to the Fusion 54 building on the corner of Walnut and Main streets.
The Downtown Loop Trail will be a paved, landscaped and lighted 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path that connects Wabash to the downtown. Additional, matching lighting will be installed on the west side of Grant Avenue along the edges of Fuller Arboretum.
The college had made concerted efforts to improve the look of its main corner at Wabash and Grant avenues — petitioning the city to remove traffic signals and purchasing aging properties on the three corners surrounding the college’s property.
A funeral home and two (no longer functioning) churches were razed to provide a longer and more compelling vista when approaching the college from the east and north.
The goal of the new Wabash Gateway Project is to provide visitors a sense of arrival at a very special place. The gateway includes:
• A wall-seat sign with columns on either side, perfect for photos at Ringing-In Saturday, homecoming, commencement and Big Bash.
• A brick paver patio area for gathering, photos and campus tours.
• Elegant landscaping with native perennials and trees that will augment the beauty of Fuller Arboretum.
• New lighting to accent the columns and seating wall sign, as well as the landscaping.
By grading some of the “hill” from the front corner, visitors will be able to get a glimpse into the Arboretum and the welcoming pathway that leads to the Hays Science Hall, Detchon Center and Mall.
The project is expected to be completed in mid-October.
The city will begin work on the Downtown Loop Trail in September/October, and that work will include ADA-friendly ramps and access points at all intersections along Grant to the corner at Wabash Avenue.
The City’s project is expected to be completed by early winter (to the Wabash Avenue corner).
Wabash’s Gateway Project has been generously funded by several members of the board of trustees. The main gateway will be dedicated in honor of Remington A. Johnston III ’55.