Haaga House, formerly known as the Walker House, was renovated to create a more welcoming presence and comfortable accommodations on campus for prospective students and their families who may have traveled many miles to interview and tour the campus.
This Chestnut Street property is rich with a history that starts in 1870 with Rev. John G. Fee deeding the property to Rev. E. Henry Fairchild, the first president of Berea College. Like Fee, President Fairchild was a staunch supporter of integrated education at a time when not everyone in the South agreed. Thus, if threats arose, a secret passage was built in a closet of the Haaga House that allowed occupants to travel through the basement and out the back to safety. Rumor has it that vandals shot through the east window, leaving a bullet hole in the woodwork of the double doors between the living room and parlor.
Haaga House was also home to President William Goodell Frost and family until the time a frame homestead was built on campus as the President’s House. After that time, the families of Pasco, Gay, and Walker owned the home next to Knapp Hall until it was sold to the College.
In addition to ease of parking, Haaga House provides an ample, comfortable lobby and waiting area, interview rooms, counselors’ offices, common meeting space, and a 30-seat presentation room with a SMART Board™ for viewing the College’s introductory materials. In addition, the south walls of the presentation room afford a breathtaking view of the mountains beyond Brushy Fork, which can be viewed after a presentation when visitors are invited to move beyond the Admissions Office to tour the rest of campus.
The house has been named to honor the Haaga and Sturt families who feel a kinship with Berea College and its mission of “growing leaders,” as Heather Haaga said. Haaga House honors the philanthropy of the entire Haaga family. “Paul and I believe that it is important in life to make a difference, to leave the world a better place,” Heather Haaga said. “We also believe ‘to whom much is given much is required,’ and we have been very blessed. The decision then becomes where can you make the biggest difference, where can you leave a legacy of change?”