Restored Cupola in place
Taking it one step further, building and grounds planted boxwoods spelling out Camp in front of the restored cupola.- Photo by Wendy Harrison

~structure restored in time for 50th anniversary~

Exactly what is a cupola? And what is it used for? The structures, which are commonly dome shaped, were originally used to provide natural light and ventilation, according to thisoldhouse.com.

“If you’ve traveled in front of the Paul D. Camp Community College Franklin Campus on College Drive, you may have wondered what that structure is on display between the state and American flags,” said President Dr. Dan Lufkin. “The structure is the cupola that came from the headquarters building shared by Chesapeake-Camp Corporation and Camp Manufacturing Company, later known as Union Camp Corporation.”

The headquarters or main office building was located on site of the mill and was built in 1937, according to local historian Clyde Parker. “It was on the right-hand side of the road just as you go over the overpass from the highway,” he said. “Over the years, as the mill was expanding and adding paper machines, the old main office was in the way. It was torn down and a new one was built.”

Franklin City Mayor Frank Rabil noted that the cupola received a face-lift thanks to the late Joe Stutts, who then served as Union Camp Corporation Community Relations Manager. “He saved and restored the cupola before it was gifted to the college,” he said. Although Rabil, along with others, seemed to recall that Stutts performed the restoration work himself, that information has not been confirmed as of yet.

Sixty years after the construction of the main headquarters, the cupola was honored during a special dedication ceremony. The April 30, 1997, event featured remarks from Stutts, as well as a special presentation by professor of welding Ed Garner. Dr. Patsy Joyner, then director of Institutional Advancement presided and the president, the late Dr. Jerome Friga, delivered the welcome.

Twenty-three more years later, the cupola fell into a state of disrepair again due to age and weather. According to Camp’s Building and Grounds Supervisor Jason Brock, it was a team effort of his department to upgrade the structure while at the same time, preserving as much history as possible.

“We basically stripped it down to what was still solid,” he said. “The only salvageable items left that are still original is the inner frame, copper flashing and the copper roof. Initially, it was put together with copper nails in the upper roof area.

“We replaced the worn wood with PVC siding and molding from top to bottom. We changed the color on the siding from the original tan to green to match the new school colors.”

It took three days for the department to complete the task. “Everyone did an amazing job reviving some history of the college,” Brock added.

While obviously the great outdoors doesn’t need any additional lighting or ventilation by way of a cupola, the domed structure serves a new purpose.

“It is a reminder to us all of the generosity of Paul Douglas Camp and his family,” said Lufkin. “Thousands of people have reached their educational and career goals because of what this college has been able to offer due to these great benefactors, and this is a way to honor them permanently.”

The restoration of the Camp Manufacturing Company cupola comes just in time as the college gears up for its 50th anniversary in 2021.

Note: Besides those quoted, former Camp President Dr. Douglas Boyce, his wife, Grace, and retired instructors also contributed to this article.