After nine decades of food and festivities, meals over moving conversations and gatherings of great minds, the dining table in the President’s Home on campus has been replaced. The beautiful new table was built by students and staff in Berea College Student Craft. A meticulous and detailed process, the table was constructed with local, sustainably harvested cherry and was designed to blend with the continuing pieces of original furniture in the space, while also leaning on several design ideas more closely tied to the College’s principles. Its center section measures 10 feet long by 54 inches wide and nearly 2 inches thick. When its six additional leaves are added, the table measures more than 17 feet long and will serve up to 20-person parties, taking over service as the focal point of hospitality, engagement and entertainment for generations of Berea College presidents and their families.
“It was sad to see the old dining room table leave the President’s Home, even though it was not in very good shape anymore and chairs had started collapsing under people,” said First Lady Laurie Roelofs. “Students had built it well, since it had lasted for 90 years. We are so happy that the new set was also built in Student Craft, and it could serve the next five to six presidents for the next 90 years!”
Andy Glenn, an instructor with the Woodworking School at Pine Croft; Jedidiah Radosevich, Woodcraft assistant; and Rob Spiece, head of Woodcraft, both from Student Craft, were part of the team that made this new table come to life. Their expert guidance allowed Berea’s Woodcraft staff apprentice Chris True, student Katie ’23 and former students Chase Slone ’21, and Minta Ellis ’21 to take a tricky project and bring it to completion, said President Lyle Roelofs.
“It was a tremendous honor for Student Craft to complete this commission in the summer of 2022,” said Student Craft Director Aaron Beale, “after significant COVID-19 related delays and an incredible amount of patience on the part of the Roelofs.”
“It’s really beautiful,” Laurie said enthusiastically. “The whole top was made from one cherry log. I had asked for a slight curve in the table to facilitate conversation along the sides and fewer legs on the table so we wouldn’t have so many people bumping their knees.
“I wish we could take it with us when we leave,” she continued, “but since we can’t, I certainly hope the new president loves it, too.”