West Virginia Universitys Department of English that boasts several acclaimed professors in its ranks is about to open a new chapter in a new home.
In the days ahead, the department will move from Stansbury Hall to Colson Hall, a stately structure built in 1925 as the original College of Law. The building will be ready for classes and students for the start of the spring semester, WVU officials say.
The 82-year-old Colson is getting an $8 million facelift and more to bring it into the 21st century with airy offices, classrooms and meeting spaces.
Were very happy to be here,said Donald Hall, English chair and distinguished professor.We want this to be a place that students and faculty will feel comfortable in. The building really is like a good book. Youre always going to find something exciting and new.
Many of Colsons trimmings, from the marble on the staircases to the woodwork and lighting, are either original or reproduced to give a nod to the 1920s.
Well, we definitely had history in mind,said Arlie Forman, a WVU construction manager who is helping to oversee the work.All these buildings are solid and beautiful.
McKinley and Associates, a Wheeling architectural firm, was enlisted for the restoration part of the renovation.
It would have been easy to come in and gut the building,Forman said,but you would have taken the heart out of it, too.
Like a writer updating a classic story line in an imaginative, but sensitive way, the new Colson Hall has all of the modern touches, but none of the garishness of thecontemporary gone wildschool of design, Hall said.
Colson visitors will see a striking curved window and wall when they enter the building and an even more dramatic expanse and environment in the Commons Room on the second floor.
Just because youre remodeling doesnt mean you cant retain your ties to your history,Hall said.
The Colson renovation is part of a multimillion project that included renovations of Oglebay and Brooks halls.