The Old Main Building restorations are complete and the building will be re-dedicated to the campus community during the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 11 at 11 a.m.
“Having the School of Education back in the main part of the campus makes us all feel a stronger connection to the campus community and allows more interactions between students and faculty,” Interim Dean of the School of Education Karen Bell said.
The ceremony will take place on the front steps of Old Main, with the alternative rain site in the 1907 room, Bell said. Speakers will include Bell, President Donald Christian, State Sen. John Bonacic, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and former-Dean Robert Michael. A reception, tours of the renovated building and a dedication of a plaque honoring former foreign language professors will follow the ceremony, Bell said.
Bell said the ceremony is significant to SUNY New Paltz, because the event will showcase the oldest building on campus.
“It’s great that the building will be highlighted,” Bell said. “It holds a special place in the hearts of many, since it was the heart of the campus for many years.”
Among the transformations the building went through were the additions of electronic classrooms, most including Smart Boards, a Literacy Center where students struggling with reading will be able to seek help, the Curriculum Materials Center Library (a space for students to work on projects) and lounge areas, Bell said.
John F. McEnrue, director of facilities design & construction, said in a New Paltz Times article that the most drastic change made during the Old Main renovations was gutting the previous gymnasium area. It was replaced with a “softly lit pale-blue-and-grey elevator lobby,” and the hallway floors were refurbished with oak wood flooring, McEnrue said.
Old Main is more handicap-accessible, with a wheelchair lift before the first flight of stairs, key-pad authorized automatic doors and a new granite ramp with sturdy railings. The building was also updated with green features, such as energy efficient air conditioning, heating and lighting, in order to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environments Design (LEED) Silver Certification, according to the New Paltz Times.
Still, the building has maintained its vintage qualities during the restoration period. The designers cleaned and reinforced the stained-glass windows in Old Main, as well as preserved the wrought-iron railings and replaced some wooden railings in the stairwells, according to the New Paltz Times article. The institutional fluorescent lighting has also been replaced with pendant lamps, which are energy efficient and suit the original look of the building, according to the New Paltz Times.
“It is often believed that building upgrades that are necessary to keep pace with modern technology, conformance with safety codes and expected occupant comforts cannot coincide with restorations of beautiful and historically significant buildings,” McEnrue said. “SUNY New Paltz and the State University Construction Fund have proven this theory wrong with the renovation of Old Main.”
Bell said she hopes for good weather so the event can remain on the front steps outside of Old Main’s doors and guests can enjoy the ceremony and what the day has to offer. She said the tours will be a special opportunity to share some of the significant renovations. She said the alumni will take special interest in them.
“The Old Main Building has been home to the School of Education ever since the school was formed,” Bell said. “Moving out was difficult and we were spread out across the campus. Now, we have returned home.”