Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus hosts annual Golden Graduates Luncheon: Richard Kessler and Christian Sottile discuss Armstrong Mansion’s legacy and renovation
On June 25, Georgia Southern University’s Office of Alumni Relations hosted the Golden Graduates Luncheon, an annual tradition that brings members of the Armstrong State University classes of 1937 through 1965 together, in the Student Union Ballroom on the Armstrong Campus.
“Our Armstrong alumni will always be honored,” said Associate Director of Alumni Relations Cheryl Ciucevich. “We will continue to have programming for them as long as they continue to come, as well as as having them invited to Georgia Southern events.”
Almost 40 of the former students, who were graduates of the original downtown Savannah campus, located in the George F. Armstrong Mansion on the corner of Gaston and Bull Streets, flipped through ‘Geechee yearbooks and reminisced about the University’s early decades as black-and-white college portrait badges served as proud identifiers. A catered lunch allowed guests time to mingle further before turning their attention to guest speakers Richard C. Kessler, CEO of the hospitality brand Kessler Collection, and architect Christian Sottile, who presented “The Legacy of the Armstrong House: From Mansion to College to Mansion.”
Kessler, a Savannah native who purchased the iconic Italian-Renaissance Revival Armstrong Mansion last year and is restoring the property for use as a personal residence with the help of Sottile, addressed the importance of Armstrong.
“Armstrong and you, the graduates, have played a significant role in the growth and improvement of Savannah over the years,” he noted. “Armstrong has made this city a better place to live. So congratulations to you on what you have already accomplished.”
He also touched on the Armstrong Mansion’s distinct character and why he was drawn to the building.
“It was important to me because it is a real iconic structure in the city,” said Kessler. “There’s really nothing like it that I know about in the southeast. It has a certain character and quality that you just don’t find in most structures, even in Savannah. It also has the historical importance of being the birthplace of Armstrong College.”
Armstrong Notable Alumni member Faye Kirschner (‘65) appreciates Kessler’s efforts.
“When you have an institution that’s been around since 1935 you want to keep it going,” she said. “We’re so excited that Richard Kessler is restoring the old Armstrong building and that’s another part of the legacy.”
While the Armstrong Mansion presentation made for a special occasion, the Golden Graduates Luncheon itself continues to take the main stage.
“It’s a very important event,” said Kirschner. “It’s been different places different years. I really enjoy seeing all the people and we talk about memories. It’s wonderful.”
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.
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