Board Votes for Berkeley Center Renewal

By Dean Andrew McGowan | Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The board of trustees has voted to go ahead with a major renewal project for the Berkeley Center. While the renovation will deliver new and improved spaces for students and visitors, the building project beginning in January will change community life. “The Berkeley Center Pilgrimage” will entail moving all activities to the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle and Bethesda Lutheran Church for Spring and Summer. The symbol of St. Luke the winged ox, temporarily leaving St. Luke’s Chapel, is “Lucas,” our mascot for this time of transition. Those interested in supporting the Berkeley Center renewal financially can contact Jonathan Taylor at

The house at 363 St. Ronan Street (built in 1903) has been Berkeley’s home since 1973, but many aspects of the building are original, and sorely in need of maintenance. It also has the capacity to serve students and our programs better. With due attention to the historic features of the house, the current plan will provide new conference, meeting, and office spaces, refurbish areas currently used for student accommodation to be more comfortable and flexible, improve accessibility and safety, remedy basic issues of drainage, and improve climate control. While the exterior will be unaffected, new paving and landscaping will improve both appearance and usability of the approaches to the Berkeley Center including a new terrace on the eastern side. This will be far the largest renovation undertaken in our or the building’s history.

The outcomes will include a capacity for the Berkeley Center to be a part of our community life beyond morning prayers and coffee, with greater access and amenity for students through the academic year, and for others—clergy, Church groups, and conferences—at other times. St. Luke’s Chapel and the nearby spaces on the first floor will not be very significantly changed. Furniture will be removed to protect it and allow the floors to be refinished. New doors will connect the library and small dining room to the porch; the large dining room will be extended into the current public kitchen, and the existing kitchens remodelled. We are working with David Thompson and Associates, a noted New Haven architectural practice. Our construction manager is Babbidge Construction.

All this is both exciting and daunting. The challenges we will share are like those of other communities—be they households or churches—who make decisions to ensure the future members and mission are well-served. We will experience some inconvenience and even disruption, but the outcomes will be worth it. In Spring, morning prayer will take place at the Chapel of the Bethesda Lutheran Church on St. Ronan Street. We are particularly grateful to our neighbors and communion partners at Bethesda for this hospitality. 

Please pray for each other as we face this change, and for our donors, trustees, staff, and our architect and builder, as they work to ensure the timely completion of the project and its funding.