October 22, 2014

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New Oberlin College hotel, conference center to bear name of late Progressive chair

A rendering of the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center shows the  facility planned to replace the Oberlin Inn on Main Street. COURTESY OBERLIN COLLEGE

A rendering of the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center shows the facility planned to replace the Oberlin Inn on Main Street. COURTESY OBERLIN COLLEGE

OBERLIN — Oberlin College’s new hotel, restaurant and conference center, to be built at the site of the former Oberlin Inn, will be named in honor of Peter B. Lewis.

Lewis, the late philanthropist and chairman of Progressive Insurance Co., donated $5 million to the project before he died in November.

In honor of his gift, which is part of a $250 million campaign in support of the Green Arts District, the hotel and conference center will be named the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

The donation required Oberlin College to match the $5 million with funds from other donors, said Bill Barlow, vice president of development and alumni affairs. Barlow said Oberlin College trustees saw fit to name the center in Lewis’ honor, because his gift was the largest contribution toward the college’s campaign.

“We’re grateful to Mr. Lewis for his generosity and support of this vision,” he said.

Barlow added that the Lewis family, including Peter Lewis’ son, Adam, has supported the college’s green initiatives. Adam Lewis was a benefactor to the college’s center for environmental studies.

To date, the college has raised more than $213 million through its campaign, which includes the hotel and conference center.

The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center will be a 100,000-square-foot, mixed-used development at the northeast corner of North Main and East College streets. The building will incorporate renewable energy systems and is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum rating, according to the college.

In addition to a 65-room hotel and conference center, the complex will include commercial and office space, a culinary training facility and a restaurant featuring locally grown food.

The cost for the Gateway Center is projected to be $32 million to be funded with a mix of tax credits and private funding, said Tita Reed, assistant to the president for community and government relations at Oberlin College.

Reed said groundbreaking for the facility will be this spring with college officials projecting the hotel to open by 2016.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • Tom

    This is great! It’ll be nice to see the Oberlin Inn get a makeover. It looked very old and out-dated.