Grounds of Being reopens after summer renovations

“It’s always been hard to operate in a basement, so it’s nice to have a space that flows.”

By Alex Ward

Grounds of Being, the Divinity School’s coffee shop located in the basement of Swift Hall, reopened on September 28 following a series of renovations this summer. The renovations were originally designed to replace aging plumbing in the building and ensure the presence of accessible restrooms on all floors, but the project was expanded to include Grounds of Being, which had seen almost no physical change since the 1980s.

Thanks to funds provided by the Divinity School, Grounds of Being, and donation campaigns overseen by the Development Office, the coffee shop was able to dramatically improve its space. The renovations expanded the seating area into what had previously been a side room and almost everything within the coffee shop was replaced, including the plumbing, floors, tables, and chairs. The expanded space has also created an island that holds napkins, silverware, and other amenities.

Aside from a new loose leaf tea machine, the coffee shop’s equipment has mostly remained the same. However, the renovations prompted other changes, including the addition of a program to provide mugs for customers to use inside the café, said manager Greg Chatterley. Chatterley worked with an architect hired by the Divinity School to develop a design for the café and to submit suggestions for the coffee shop’s new aesthetic before he selected the final look.

Among the shop’s employees, who are all students at the Divinity School, opinions on the renovations are favorable. Barista Kylie Zane said, “It’s always been hard to operate in a basement, so it’s nice to have a space that flows.” Cane thinks the renovations have been a positive change. Before the construction, the shop would get a few bursts of activity around the first classes of the day and just after lunchtime, but now, “after 12, we’re busy pretty much until the end of the day,” Cane said.

Although most things—like the café’s cash-only policy—have stayed the same, Chatterley says that there are new initiatives in the works. For example, he’s planning a program for professors at the Divinity School to provide artwork from their respective traditions.