Sunday, February 21, 2010

South Hall

South Hall is a building with a lot of history. It's funny because so much has happened to this building and it was such an integral part of the town. Now it lays abandoned and boarded up encased in vegetation.

The first South Hall at Alfred was built in 1845 and "was used as a women’s residence hall, chapel, and classrooms. It was destroyed by fire in 1858."(Herrick)

The current South Wall was built in 1908, and was formerly a grammar school. This is because Kanakedea Hall, which used to be the Alfred grammar school, caught fire in 1907. The town then handed over Kanakedea Hall to the school in exchange for the plot of land that South Hall is on.(Cramer)

In 1929 addittions were done to South Hall allowing it to accomodate more students and serve as the women's gymnasium turning South Hall into a 22,000 sq. ft. structure. "South Hall remained the Alfred Central School until 1940, when Alfred and Almond combined school districts. It was in 1941 that Alfred University bought South Hall back from the town for a price of less than $11,000. The University turned South Hall into classrooms for business administration, social sciences and education.After WWII, the basement of South Hall was used for military research of ceramics for rockets and jet propulsion. "(Cramer)

In 1976 Alfred University cleared out South Hall and handed it over to the Alleghany County Association for Retarded Citizens. There they provided jobs for the mentally disabled until 1987.(Cramer)

South Hall remained empty from 1987 until 1993 while Powell Campus Center was being built, South Hall acted as the Campus center as well as an exhibition space for the School of Art and Design until Powell's completion.(Cramer)

"In 1994, South Hall was set to be demolished so that the plot of land could be turned into a ceramics museum."(Cramer) It was decided that it would be torn down however the date for the demolition got postponed. Then the "The Village board learned that they did not have permission from the National Historic Trust to demolish the building. Because it was built in 1904, it is considered a historic building; in fact, it is the largest structure in Alfred’s historic district."(Cramer)

The University decided to keep South Hall and try to find alternative uses for it. In 1995 it would have roughly cost about 3 million to renovate and it was decided to let sit. "Former president Edward Coll predicted that the roof would collapse in 4 years, and then the building would have to be condemned.

Almost 15 years later, the roof is still in one piece. "(Cramer)

"A press release 10 years later, in April 2005, by current President Charles Edmondson, stated that South Hall would be turned into a 90-bedroom residence hall, which would be completed in the Fall 2006. Over half of the money to transform the building came from a gift from Arthur and Lea Powell. The press release stated that the building “will be converted into paired bedrooms with a shared bathroom between them." "(Cramer)

In 2007 the cost to fix South Hall skyrocketed to about 8-10 million and the renovations were halted.

Now it stands hidden from view. With no real use for it most people don't pay any attention to it and some don't even know what it is. It is a major part of the history of Alfred having been part of so many things over the last century.

To be Continued and fixed repeatedly -

Copyright © Herrick Memorial Library at Alfred University "South Hall (first)"

Ian Cramer, "
South Hall: A campus building in Limbo" Copyright © 2010, The Fiat Lux.

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