Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA interior design students help remodel The Fredonia Hotel

April 1, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University senior Nia Ledger presents her group's design concepts for The Fredonia Hotel to hotel owner Richard DeWitt and hotel management. This semester, students enrolled in SFA interior design associate professor Sally Ann Swearingen's senior capstone course have been working on The Fredonia Hotel's remodeling efforts.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Thirteen Stephen F. Austin State University interior design students are leaving their mark on Nacogdoches in a big way.

This semester, students enrolled in SFA interior design associate professor Sally Ann Swearingen's senior capstone course have been working with Richard and Barbara DeWitt, the new owners of The Fredonia Hotel, and hotel management in their remodeling efforts.

Students began working on the project in January. After a walk-through of the facility, the class divided into four teams and began researching design concepts. SFA senior Jasmine Martin described the process as challenging and eye opening.

"It's been an interesting project. This is my first time to focus on hospitality design. We usually work on residential design, and this project gives us a way of designing for the commercial world," Martin said.

The class meets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. two days a week to work on designs for the hotel. Students have been tasked with helping design the front lobby, Nine Flags bar, gift shop, outdoor areas, hotel rooms and more.

"It's been really cool to see how the hotel used to be and to see what the client wants it to look like now," said Sarah Scarborough, senior SFA interior design major. "We think the hotel is going to bring in a lot of people to Nacogdoches."

The project has been separated into presentation phases where students show their designs to the clients for feedback and approval. Recently, the class presented its concepts for The Fredonia's outdoor areas, hotel rooms, and the steak restaurant and bar.

"It's good to get a different perspective from different generations," said The Fredonia Hotel's general manager John McLaren. "Being a historic hotel, we want to be able to appeal to all varieties of people and generations."

The student teams create 2-D floor plans and 3-D designs using Revit and AutoCad professional design software. The class also has met with manufacturers and contractors.

"I am excited about this opportunity Richard and Barbara DeWitt are giving our interior design program. It has allowed our students to give suggestions and learn more about the history of The Fredonia Hotel," Swearingen said. "The students have enjoyed the hands-on experience, meeting with management and owners, and getting to hear from locals who are looking forward to the hotel reopening."

The iconic hotel is scheduled to open again this fall and showcase classic mid-century style with a new generation of hospitality.