$6 Million Gift Will Help Restore Historic Cullen Building

Funds from the Cullen Trust for Higher Education also will be used to construct a new admission and welcome center for Southwestern, which will be located behind the existing Cullen Building.

The most recognizable landmark on the Southwestern campus will get a much-needed renovation in coming years thanks to a $6 million gift pledge from the Cullen Trust for Higher Education.

The gift will provide funds to renovate the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, which was originally constructed between 1898 and 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This gift will allow us to plan for a comprehensive remodeling of the Cullen Building as opposed to continuing to do renovations piecemeal,” says President Jake B. Schrum ’68. “We are very grateful to the Cullen Trust for providing funds that will allow the building to offer beauty, function and inspiration for generations to come.”

This is the third major gift the Houston-based Cullen Trust has given for renovation of the Cullen Building. In 2002, Southwestern received a $1 million gift for the building, part of which was used to create an alumni center on the second floor and a suite of offices for student academic services on the third floor. In 2004, the Trust committed another $3 million for the project, a portion of which will be used to construct a new stand-alone admission and welcome center for the university.

Construction of the admission center needs to be completed before renovations on the original building can begin. Current plans call for a one-story, 9,700 square-foot building to be built behind the existing Cullen Building.

It will honor Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Smith of Houston.

Renovations on the original building will include upgrading the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, and bringing it up to current standards for handicapped accessibility. The building also has more than 300 windows that need to be replaced with double-paned, insulated windows to make it more energy efficient.

Plans for the renovation also include construction of a 1,300 square-foot “heritage gallery” dedicated to Southwestern’s history as the first institution of higher learning in Texas. This gallery will be located on the first floor in the area currently occupied by the admission office. The renovation also will bring the building’s interior finishes back to their original historic character.