Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2024

Title:Welcome to the new Alumni House, your home away from home

Author: Julia Farr (C’88, Parent’19, ’21, ’24)
Date Published: April 8, 2024
two women stand in a doorway and use giant scissors to open a building
GUAA President Kelly Mulvoy Mangan (SFS’91, Parent’25) and Executive Director Julia Farr (C’88, Parent’19, ’21, ’24) open the recently renovated Alumni House. Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

If you graduated from Georgetown, chances are you grabbed your diploma and left campus through Healy Gates to start your life as a proud alum. No more than 100 steps from those iconic gates, walking along O Street, is Wagner Alumni House. Located at 3604 O Street, it is home to all visiting Georgetown alumni as well as the Georgetown University Alumni Association.

How it started

Blending seamlessly into the federalist-style brick rowhouses, Alumni House seems like it has always been a fixture of the Georgetown neighborhood. But that’s not the case.

Before the association had a dedicated building, the executive director and leadership teams worked in such locations as an anteroom of the president’s office, a former “smoking room” for seniors in White-Gravenor, and the basement of Georgetown Hospital.

In 1951, a nearby building was acquired as an office space for the alumni association’s exclusive use. Executive Secretary James S. Ruby (C’27) shared the following with members that summer: “Past us flows all pedestrians and vehicular traffic to and from the university. It is ample for our immediate purposes, and if we use it well and purposefully for Georgetown and the sons of Georgetown, we may well expand one day into a real Georgetown Club for our members here and out of town.”

In 1952, 1966, and 1984, the association acquired adjoining townhouses, five in total. If you graduated before 2000, those are the houses you remember. 

a priest and two other people at the opening ribbon-cutting ceremony
Father Mark Bosco and GUAA President Kelly Mulvoy Mangan (SFS’91, Parent’25) at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently renovated Alumni House. Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

I first entered the Alumni House when I was very young. My mother, Joyce Farr (G’71), worked as the assistant to Dr. Ruby when she was first out of college. She would take me, along with my siblings, to visit a friend who worked there as the director of financial affairs. When we were old enough, we got to “work” at the Alumni House on our days off from school and eventually during our summer breaks: opening Annual Fund contributions, stuffing envelopes for mass alumni mailings, and running errands up on campus.

When I began my undergraduate years in 1984, the Alumni House was certainly a home to me. I can remember running up and down the stairs between the houses multiple times a day as none of them were connected. I also remember the house showing signs of wear and tear due to the large staff and multiple, on-site meetings and receptions.

By 1998, Alumni House was in need of serious repair. The association temporarily moved to 2115 Wisconsin Avenue, about a mile away in the Glover Park neighborhood, while raising a total of $7.5 million for the renovation, including steel supports for the sagging lower levels of the 150-year-old structures.

Robert (SFS’48) and Bernice Wagner (Parents’78) made a leadership gift to complete the house’s renovation, and in October 2005, it opened under a new name: The Robert and Bernice Wagner Alumni House.

Through the years, the house has hosted both formal meetings and informal gatherings. Signature spaces include a wood- paneled library, a winter garden room with fun caricatures of members of the alumni community who supported the 2005 renovation, and a welcoming patio that has been the site of many reunion and homecoming celebrations.

But when it comes to an alumni headquarters, there is always more to do. Our membership is growing, and gathering spaces on campus are harder to come by. In the years following the pandemic there’s a desire for connection. We want alumni to connect here.

people in formal wear stand at the entrance of a white brick building next to a glowing lantern sconce
GUAA Board members open the newly renovated Alumni House. Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

How it’s going

We looked around the Alumni House during the COVID years and realized that as great as the space was, it was due for an update. The new virtual world demanded a technology update to host hybrid meetings, and the increase in the house’s use for receptions and meetings inspired an interior design renovation to mirror the renovation at Reed Residence, an entertaining space for the university community and the home of the executive director just across the street.

In the summer of 2023, we closed the Alumni House doors for three months to make the house a home again. Edith Gregson Interiors (EGI), the design company that renovated Reed Residence in 2020, stepped in again to recreate the feeling of a modern home. With a two-floor renovation of both the public and office spaces, Wagner Alumni House is now ready for prime-time alumni engagement.

In addition to updated lighting, new navy and gray walls, and renewed floors that exude “the essence of Georgetown,” the house now features elegant meeting and reception spaces, redesigned board rooms, virtual meeting capabilities, and even a wine cellar with a tasting room.

In the September 1953 issue of Georgetown University Alumni Magazine, Executive Secretary Ruby encouraged alumni to “treat the renovated headquarters as their own and to visit often.” On behalf of the alumni association, I echo that sentiment and personally invite you to visit. Alumni may stop by Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see the space and learn more about the mission and work of the association. Those interested in reserving space at Wagner Alumni House for an event should email

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