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Cochran Hall was the gift of Sarah B. Cochran, the first woman to become an Allegheny College trustee. The Cochrans earned their money from beehive coke ovens in southwestern Pennsylvania, where they also built their estate known as Linden Hall, now serving as a resort area and the Walter J. Burke Labor Education Center for the United Steelworkers of America. The building was the most costly on campus at the time it was built, a fact still evident in the rich ornamentation of the former entry and dining halls on the main floor. The building was heavily used, first as a commons area for men, then as the College Union from 1955 to 1972, and now to house both academic and service functions that bring most of campus through its doors on a daily basis. The renovations planned to begin in 2004 are intended to bring back some of the building's former magnificence, with special attention paid to the restoration of the finely crafted woodwork and refurbishment of the original fireplaces. Upon completion of this work, Cochran Hall will boast the most elegant spaces on campus.