Wheaton College Emerson Dining Hall

Norton, MA


Wheaton College


Renovation of Wheaton’s oldest 15,780 SF dining hall to retain its historic character and improve dining service with “pay as you go” options.


Emerson Dining Hall is located in one of the oldest buildings on campus – a building with significant historic character and of great value to the Wheaton community. The challenge was to refresh the dining hall in keeping with its character, update the servery to a “pay as you go” format, and configure finishes and layout to work for both campus and rental events as well as everyday dining and study.


Emerson Hall now fully serves its two main roles on campus. The beautiful existing finishes of Emerson’s 15’ high space were restored and highlighted, retaining the 12’ high wood paneling and four existing fireplaces, restored with wrought iron screens emblazoned with Wheaton’s “W”. New lighting, AV technology, and a central wooden dance floor create a different ambiance as needed for campus and rental events. A variety of seating options provide space for socializing or quiet study – from tables that can be re-positioned into small or large group settings, to quieter seating in the sunlit “porch” space to comfortable couch seating around the fireplaces, and a separate faculty dining area.

The servery’s design adds touches of copper, blue ceramic tile, porcelain tile “travertine”, and French blue and warm yellow accents to create the feel of a Parisian bakery. Circulation has been reconfigured to flow through the space, eliminating the former dead-end bottleneck at peak hours. The “Panera”-like concept offers students, faculty and visitors “pay as you go” options throughout the day, as well as evening food service for campus and rental events after hours.