Renovated Harvey Hall draws rave reviews at reopening event

By University Communications
September 23, 2016
UW-Stout student Margaret Thesing prepares to cut the ribbon at the Harvey Hall grand reopening celebration Thursday, Sept. 22.

Photo: UW-Stout student Margaret Thesing prepares to cut the ribbon
at the Harvey Hall grand reopening celebration Thursday, Sept. 22.

Bob and Beverly Spinti walked through Harvey Hall at University of Wisconsin-Stout, as they have many times in their lives, but it looked better to them than it has in decades: fresher, brighter and more original.

“I’m glad they’ve brought back some of what it used to be,” Bob Spinti said Thursday, Sept. 22, during a grand reopening celebration of the century-old building, in which they took classes more than 60 years ago.

The Spintis were among several hundred faculty, staff, students, alumni and special guests who toured the building and gave two thumbs up to a nearly three-year renovation project.

The tours were preceded by a program in Harvey Hall Theatre featuring UW System President Ray Cross and Chancellor Bob Meyer and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Cross thanked the many officials and professionals who made the $28.3 million project a reality, including state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls who attended the event. “Unless you have really good advocates like her, this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Also attending was John Behling, vice president of the UW System Board of Regents.

Cross was impressed with how an old building was updated with modern amenities while preserving its historic character. He likened it to the work that goes on inside the building, “the shaping of minds. That’s what’s really, really important,” he said.

Students pass a historic marker next to Harvey Hall, right.Meyer, who first came to UW-Stout as a student in 1975, called Harvey Hall “a symbol of the rich heritage of UW-Stout and its commitment to excellence in higher education.”

He acknowledged the work of Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen, under whom the project began. “This project never would have been accomplished without the dogged efforts of Chancellor Sorensen, who wouldn’t let anyone at the UW System, the Legislature, the Department of Administration or the governor’s office lose sight of it. His efforts were rewarded with the fine facility we have today, including the remodeled Harvey Hall Theatre,” Meyer said.

Sorensen, who retired in 2014, recently wrote to Meyer about the project. “I am very pleased that the renovation is complete, since in so many ways it symbolizes this fine university and its educational excellence. This remodeled building is a tribute to the many thousands of students who passed through its halls,” Sorensen said.

The general contractor for the project was Miron Construction of Neenah. Project executive David Voss III is a 2003 UW-Stout construction graduate. His father, David Voss Jr., is a 1976 UW-Stout graduate and president and CEO of Miron. The project manager was Matthew Frey, a 2012 UW-Stout construction graduate.

“It was a true privilege to oversee construction of a building at a university with which Miron has such special bonds. The 100 years of history held within these hallowed halls was not taken lightly. Great care was invested into preserving the integrity of this facility while still giving it the makeover it so rightly needed,” Voss III said.

The project architect was River Architects of La Crosse.

The campus liaison for the project was Zenon Smolarek, a UW-Stout alumnus and assistant director of the Physical Plant. He noted that 133 faculty and staff had to be relocated to Jeter-Tainter-Callahan residence hall on north campus when work began.

Faculty and staff moved back in with “oohs and aahs. People can’t believe what we’ve accomplished,” Smolarek said.

Planning and the renovation, which started in January 2014 with asbestos removal, encompassed more than a decade.

Visitors walk under the fourth floor skylights.

Historic and modern amenities

The Spintis, of Menomonie, graduated from UW-Stout in the 1950s and became professors on campus, Bob for 38 years and Beverly for 10, before retiring.

They were pleased to see original height windows and ceilings and historically accurate paint colors, as well as the reopening of the fourth-floor skylights. A new cafeteria was added to the first floor; the original building had a Tea Room for social events in the same location.

The facility has completely updated infrastructure, meets ADA standards and has more lounge and study spaces. The traffic flow was flipped — offices relocated to the top two floors and classrooms, 22 of them, now on the first two floors.

The building is home to the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, it houses the Office of International Education, staff and faculty Senate offices, Writing Center, Social Science Research Center, psychology labs, Digital Humanities Lab and more.

A visitor takes a photo of the Clock Tower from a Harvey Hall window.“This is an amazing facility, new and old, modern and historic. We hope our work will stand for at least another 100 years,” said Maria Alm, dean of the college.

Construction of Harvey Hall, which cost about $200,000, began in 1914. The building opened two years later, with the 1916 commencement ceremony in the theater the first official event. Originally called the Domestic Science Building and then the Home Economics Building, it was renamed in 1952 for Lorenzo Dow Harvey, who was president of the school when the building was approved and built.

Harvey’s office, now a conference room, was one of the rooms featured in tours of the building Thursday. His desk has been preserved and remains in the office.

Music at the ceremony, by the UW-Stout Symphonic Band, featured “New York Hippodrome” by John Philip Sousa; the piece was played at the 1917 building dedication ceremony. The band also played “With Tower High,” composed by Erika Svanoe; it was commissioned for UW-Stout’s 125thanniversary this year.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on the theater stage included 20 people, with student Margaret Thesing, of Stoddard, representing the Stout Student Association, cutting the ribbon. Also representing SSA was Erik Pearl, of Altoona.

Student displays were part of the building tours, including the Harvey Hall historic video game, a collaborative project involving dozens of digital humanities students and game design students.



Second Photo: Students pass a historic marker for Harvey Hall, right, at UW-Stout. The 100-year-old building has reopened after a $28.3 million renovation.

Third Photo: Harvey Hall grand reopening visitors walk under skylights on the fourth floor. The skylights were part of the original building and were reopened during the renovation.

Bottom Photo: A visitor at the Harvey Hall grand reopening takes a photo of the Bowman Hall Clock Tower. Windows in Harvey Hall were restored to their original size.