By Sara Nitikman and Caroline Moser (November 2012)
This article begins a series profiling special areas of the Ebell.
Originally called the Sun Room or Solarium, this room was used during World War II by the USO. The USO had established a canteen at the Ebell building to feed soldiers and their families. The USO had many social events at the Ebell including dances that were held in the solarium. This room was also used as a sewing room for making blankets and knitting socks for the troops. For at least 17 years, the Solarium has been used (except for 2009-2012) as the home, and rehearsal room for the Chorale. The Chorale once again meets in this room.
The corridor from which the room is accessed was part of the original open-air Roof Garden, looking down on the Ebell garden from outside the Sun Room and outside the Library. The other rooms were “Department” rooms, where poetry, drama and other educational, literary and art groups met.
The room is in the middle of the Ebell, running north-south. We recently removed a long-time “temporary” wall which hid the most southern bay from view. The Solarium has its original lanterns, concrete floor and handsome arched beams. It occupies the space directly above the Dining Room and represents a peaceful, removed echo of that other, more active, space.
The room is currently a members’ gathering space, with comfortable furniture, wi-fi, and writing desks. It is often used for film and television shoots. In fact, the 1994 Best Picture Oscar® winner Forrest Gump filmed scenes in the Ebell’s Solarium.
Sara Nitikman graduated from Chapman University with a BA in History. She is currently assisting the Archives staff on the continued preservation of the Ebell Historical Archive documents.