Americorps Students Surveying Bellemont Manor, Working to Fund Future CSE Projects

Ann Arbor Senior Justin Loukotka, left, and Eaton Rapids sophomore Riley Kunkel move a couch in one of the rooms in Bellemont Manor. Inventory is being done in the manor by students part of both Americorps and CSE (Photo courtesy of Abigail Coleman).

Since the spring of 2022, Americorps Director Lindsey Knowlden and member Abigail Coleman, a junior from Holland, have been working to restore the furniture that has been stored in Bellemont Manor. The pair has been coordinating the effort with the Center for Sustainability and the Environment (CSE), the facilities department and the Albion College business office.  

According to the Albion College Archives, Bellemont Manor, located on Porter Street, was donated to Albion College by George and Belle Dean in 1962. The building has about 30 rooms and was previously used as a meeting area for conferences. 

Elizabeth Palmer, who works in the Archives and Special Collections department at the campus library said that years ago, Bellemont was used as a place to house overnight guests, but that is not the case anymore.

“My parents stayed in a room at Bellemont for a night before my graduation from Albion College in 2010,” Palmer said via email. “By this time, I think Bellemont was being used for mostly internal events, and not external organization conferences.”

The building is used for a few social events, but Knowlden said it’s been more of a furniture storage room in recent years.

This project has been under the leadership of Coleman for almost a year. During the fall of 2022, CSE members Riley Kunkel joined the group, along with Eaton Rapids sophomore Zo Holevac and Justin Loukotka who joined this semester. 

The students have begun to move and take inventory of the furniture after almost a year of planning and obtaining approval to begin the project.

“You’ll find hundreds of pieces of furniture from couches to tables to mirrors to lamps that are just shoved into the building,” Coleman said.

Knowlden said that not only are they making sure that they keep things with important historical meaning to the college, but they also want to keep the things that have been donated.

“Once we do some research about the value of the furniture, we will look at three things,” Knowlden said. “If it’s an antique and holds a special connection with the college, a piece is an antique but doesn’t hold any special value or the piece of furniture the college has no need for.” 

Coleman, Kunkel, Holevac and Loukotka are in the house regularly, sorting through all of the furniture being kept in the building. They work as a team keeping track of everything in the entire Manor, taking pictures, tagging items and using a spreadsheet to do so Knowlden said. 

“We go every weekday for three to four hours,” Holevac said. 

While they work inside the manor, they are limited to doing inventory but have goals for the furniture in the future. If permission is granted, the team hopes to be able to resell or upcycle these items to contribute to the green fund for future CSE projects. The CSE green fund is a collection of money that the organization hopes to use to fund other sustainability-related projects.

Knowlden said that the profit made from potentially selling these items would go into this fund, which would be handled by the business office for the CSE in the hopes of funding more sustainability projects on campus. 

Ashlynn Reed, a Palmyra junior and communications intern for CSE, also said that this money would go toward the green fund. 

“Anything that is a Sustainability and Environmental student lead project will be funded,” Reed said.

Currently, Americorps is focusing on working with all of the furniture in Bellemont before moving on to different areas around the campus and doing the same process. Knowlden said they hope that if this project is successful, they can move to other areas on campus. 

About Rhiannon Slotnick 29 Articles
Rhiannon Slotnick is a Junior from Detroit, Michigan. She is double majoring in English Literature Creative Writing and Sociology. She enjoys putting words on to paper for both work and for personal pleasure. If she's not writing, you can find her reading a book or stargazing around campus. You can contact her at rms15@albion.edu

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