Date Built: 1938
Square Feet: 52,000
Philanthropist Mrs. Helen Draper Ayer of Massachusetts, and later of California, created a trust fund, the Draper Foundation, in honor of her Kentucky-born mother, Mrs. Jessie Preston Draper. Through this fund, she gave Berea $200,000 with the single stipulation that the funds were to be used to educate Appalachian students. Other gifts included $50,000 given in memory of Henry C. Munger by his sister. The donated funds collectively totaled $340,000, used to build the Draper Building in 1938.
Draper is one of the largest academic structures on campus, occupying 56,000 square feet of space and rising to three stories tall, not including the tower in the center. Its construction replaced three single- and two-room schoolhouses, the old music building, classrooms on Richmond Pike, the old post office, and a tin shop. The labor and materials used were largely cheaper as the building was built during the late Depression. The middle portion of the tower is a model after the tower found on Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Mirrored on each side of the tower are the east and west wings, within which were twelve classrooms each. The architect, Charles Cellarius, said in its building he imagined it “growing naturally out of its woodland setting.”
Over the years, there have been several renovations, with offices in 1991 and classrooms in 1993. The tower received a major renovation in the summer of 2000, with the carillon installation. The entire building renovation took place from 2001 to 2002 while preserving the outside of the building, maintaining its classical colonial appearance, and gutting the inside to replace it with a resourceful and state-of-the-art learning environment. The old materials used in the building’s original construction were saved and reused in the renovation, and the student-made Woodcraft furnishings were later refinished. The building dedication was October 25, 2002.
In June 2000, renovation began on the Draper Building tower for the installation of a 56-bell Carillon. The Carillon is an instrument consisting of bells that plays like a piano or organ. The musical instrument weighs 11 tons. The Berea College Carillon is the largest in Kentucky.