The Baker Center

Baker Center
During renovations, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving staff members walk through the Baker Center, where their new offices will be located.

A place alumni can call home

With its hooded fireplace and generously flowing space, the Baker Center has served as a stately venue for academic and social events. The colonial-style home was built in 1904 for Mabel Ida Baker Anderson and Louis Anderson, a professor of Greek and Latin who was one of the first three faculty members at Whitman College.

The house was bought by the school in 1956 and has since served as a lounge and reception area for faculty, students, alumni and other special guests. Writing about what was originally called The Anderson Mansion, former Whitman President Stephen B.L. Penrose said that it “seems to belong naturally to the College campus and to be indispensable for its symmetrical and artistic development.”

Thanks to a leadership gift from George Osborne ’66, the Baker Center has undergone a significant renovation. Workers installed new wiring, a new HVAC system, new fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and a new elevator. The main floor and kitchen have been updated to better accommodate a host of events. There is also additional lighting on the east side lawn to allow for outdoor gatherings.

The renovation was painstakingly planned to preserve the historical integrity of the house. For instance, the sprinkler pipes and heads are hidden in the ceiling beams, and air from the HVAC system flows through the old steam heating vents. The final touch will be the addition of period-style furniture throughout the house.

The newly remodeled Baker Center honors the history of Whitman and symbolizes the importance of alumni to the college, as well. When the renovations are complete, the staffs of the Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Annual Giving will move into the second floor.

“This project puts the building to better use and will reflect a more welcoming spirit to alumni visiting the office,” President George Bridges said.