Mars Hill College honors Madison High students for help building pavilion

The beautiful new pavilion at Mars Hill College, built by students at Madison High School. (Photo courtesy of Mars Hill College)

Press release

From Mars Hill College

The beautiful new pavilion behind Broyhill Chapel at Mars Hill College represents far more than a scenic location for events.

The structure, made of hand-fitted, rough-sawn logs and custom-made steel plates, represents the fruit of cooperation between individuals and organizations, the power of experiential learning and the creativity of young artisans in the making who are raising construction to an art form.

A special celebration on October 1 will take place at the pavilion at 1:45 pm to honor the cooperative relationship between Mars Hill College and Madison High School, and especially the young men and women at Madison High School who made the pavilion a reality. The public is invited.

Madison High School teacher Bradley Franklin designed the structure and the shape of the steel plates necessary to hold it together. Then last year from December through May, students in his construction technology class hand-tooled each piece of wood, assembling the structure in the shop facility at Madison High School.

The work his students completed was difficult and “amazing,” Franklin said, but a simple glance at the 40 ft. x 26 ft. structure might not give a full appreciation of the intricate work involved in the project.

“These rough-hewn timbers don’t fit together without a lot of very detailed hand chiseling. There’s a lot of tedious work that has to go into each log for them to fit precisely together,” Franklin said. “And because you don’t sand this wood, if you mess up, you can’t really fix it.”

Franklin spent much of the semester when the pavilion was under construction seated or on crutches, after an accident at his home that broke his leg in multiple places. Franklin said the students were so anxious to work on the pavilion that they contacted him at home and convinced him to come back to work three weeks earlier than his doctor recommended.

“They told me they would do exactly what I said, and that they would take care of me,” Franklin said. “And that’s exactly what they did.”

Franklin said he designed the roof to employ both truss and rafter construction. The effect, he said, is not only attractive, but it gave students experience in both kinds of construction.

Franklin said he was especially excited to be able to offer students in his class some hands-on experience with post and beam construction. “That is a type of construction that my students have studied for years, without any hands-on experience,” he said. “But this year’s students got actual experience.”

The pavilion was assembled off-site because students only had the class for an hour and a half at a time. Transportation to the site would have used up most of the working time, Franklin said.

When the structure was complete, the students disassembled it, and a contractor assembled it on the site behind Broyhill Chapel, using a crane to place the roof.

For Mars Hill College, the partnership has yielded a beautiful location for outdoor events, less expensively than a similar structure built by a contractor. Future plans include adding two masonry fire pits. A concert has already been planned in the pavilion during homecoming weekend.

Mars Hill College officials say they are excited about the attractive addition to the campus. But according to Dr. John Wells, executive vice president, there’s more to it.

“This pavilion represents a place to build community on our campus, something that is very important at Mars Hill College,” he said. “It’s a place where the beauty of our mountains can provide a backdrop to many of the events that characterize a small, liberal arts college. And, perhaps most important, it represents the vital relationship between Mars Hill College and the public schools of Madison County.”

Wells said the ultimate hope is that the students who built the pavilion will consider furthering their education close to home, at Mars Hill College.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of those students come to campus as college students? Every time they pass the pavilion, they can say: ‘I did that, I had a hand in that.’”

Mars Hill College is a private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees and one graduate degree in elementary education. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North 1-866-MHC-4-YOU.


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