ATG: Why Light Sharples’ Fireplace So Infrequently?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Sharples-goers on Valentine’s Day were treated to a warm fire glowing in the fireplace during dinner. Why is this such a rare sight? According to Linda McDougall, Director of Dining Services, it’s because of a lack of firewood availability and having someone tend to the fire. Also, “It seems like it remains ‘special’ when it is used for special occasions and snowy days,” she added. But Swatties have hope—if a snow storm materializes on Friday, McDougall says the fireplace may be lit.


  1. 0
    Alan says:

    As a parent who visits from time to time, and eats at Sharples occasionally, I have always made note of the magnificence of the fireplace, and the tragedy of its apparent once-a-year use.
    Sharples is, perhaps, the solitary venue on campus where most all of the student body attend almost daily, and it would seem obvious [although I’m sure that one could research the original builder’s notes and plans] that the architects of that special place [I’m not necessarily talking about the food!] incorporated the central fireplace as an anchoring note of welcome to all who enter, and as a means to warm their souls and spirits, not just their flesh.
    The message received upon entering, and facing a stone cold and unused work of art is, simply, one of sadness, and soullessness.
    I cannot imagine that obtaining sufficient firewood and periodically attending to the fire, so that it may be lit and welcoming during lunchtime each winter day, is any more difficult, or costly, than heating up frozen hamburgers.
    And much more satisfying.

  2. 0
    Bob says:

    With the Swarthmore campus being an arboritum, there should be plenty of wood around from the pruning and fallen branches to be cut up for firewood. The fireplace is an under utilized asset that makes the campus a warmer and more itimate place.

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