New Episcopal Dorm Under Construction Near University of Georgia Campus

Thu June 03, 2021 - Southeast Edition

An artist's rendering of the Wright House.
An artist's rendering of the Wright House.

After a delay of more than a year, primarily due to the pandemic, construction crews are finally able to get construction underway on Wright House, a new residential facility in Athens, Ga., that has been in the planning stages for years.

The building will sit University of Georgia property at the top of Lumpkin Street, kitty-corner from Myers Hall.

Wright House will be a first for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and could be a bellwether for other campus ministry programs in Georgia. Securing permission from UGA to use University Court, followed by COVID-19, halted the project until its groundbreaking this past April. The facility is expected to be finished in June 2022, according to Flagpole, a local independent journalism outlet in Athens.

Grahl Construction is building Wright House from a design by Studio BNA Architects. Both companies are based in Athens.

Named for the Rev. Rob Wright, the Episcopal bishop of the Atlanta Diocese who pushed for its creation, the Wright House will have one, two, three and four-bedroom pods accommodating 123 students, as well as a two-bedroom unit for the Rev. Clayton Harrington, who will serve as chaplain. Only UGA students — regardless of their beliefs — will be allowed to live there.

"Right now, we're doing balcony level planning and are considering what it's going to look like," Harrington said in remarks to Flagpole.

Since the old St. Mary's Chapel was demolished to make way for the new facility, UGA's Episcopal students have been meeting at the Presbyterian Student Center. They will continue to do so during the fall and spring semesters, Harrington told the news source.

In addition to residential rooms, the four-story Wright House will include on-site parking, a fitness center, a large, shared kitchen, a roof deck and retail space selling coffee and sandwiches on the bottom floor. There also will be a ground-level chapel doubling as a multi-purpose room that can be rearranged for events other than a worship service.

The monthly rent will be commensurate with Athens' other private student housing complexes, noted the Rev. Canon Lang Lowrey, who directs Christian enterprise for the Atlanta Archdiocese of the Episcopal Church.

"We understand there are a lot of capable students who can get tuition but who can't get money for living," Lowrey told Flagpole. "We're trying to address that."

To that end, Lowery said the archdiocese has created the Wright Foundation to help cover the cost of housing for the Wright House. The Rev. Nikki Mathis, a priest at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, is chairing the foundation, which she said is a work in progress. It is expected to solicit funds from across many north Georgia churches.

She said the money will help, "those who don't have the same opportunities that affluent people do. We're hoping to get people who may be the first in their families to attend college."

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