Sheldon Hall's clocks to return in $10 million historic preservation project

Contractor PAC & Associates of Oswego has won a $10 million contract through SUNY Construction Fund to restore the exterior of SUNY Oswego’s flagship Sheldon Hall, with a keen eye to historical detail in this, the college’s sesquicentennial year.

Students doing field research.One task will be the return of the clocks to each of the cupola’s four faces. Plans call for many other steps to restore the century-old sheen to the campus’s first building, just as the college celebrates its founding in 1861 as the Oswego Primary Teachers’ Training School.

The college, once located on the city’s west side, acquired its present campus in the early 20th century. The cornerstone was laid 100 years ago, and the building was dedicated in 1914—the year World War I began. For more about Sheldon Hall’s intriguing history, visit http://www.oswego.edu/about/150/buildings/sheldon.html.

Bob Lloyd, project coordinator for Facilities, Design and Construction at SUNY Oswego, said the college has worked with WASA Studio A, a New York City architectural firm that specializes in historic preservation, in planning the restoration.

“This is a special and enjoyable project to be involved with,” Lloyd said. “The goal for this wonderful building is faithful historic preservation.”

Lloyd said the facelift would begin in earnest this spring. “We’re hoping to be substantially complete by fall 2012, though the project could move into 2013,” he said.

The work for PAC & Associates, 11 Fourth Ave., will include the following, from the top down:

* Cupola restoration, including clocks.

* Replacement of the roof with new copper over its concrete base.

* Replacement of the several courses of bricks just under the rooftop, and repair and replacement of decorative terra cotta moldings and panels above and below the bricks.

Gladding, McBean LLC of Lincoln, Calif., will be subcontractor for all of the building’s terra cotta, a clay-based ceramic material. It is one of three companies in the country so equipped, Lloyd said. PAC & Associates this spring will be cutting out sections of spindling, scrollwork, cornices, arches, columns—more than 80 distinct pieces in all—to send to Gladding as templates.

* Cleaning, with replacement as necessary, of the entire brick facade, including repairing and repointing the masonry.

* All new, historically faithful windows.

“We have found a replica aluminum window that will match what’s there very closely,” Lloyd said. The windows meet state Historic Preservation Office standards, as do other portions of the project, he said.

* All six columns that give Neo-Classical character to Sheldon Hall’s Washington Boulevard face will be replaced.

* Granite steps for the main entrance’s stairway, to replace the concrete laid over deteriorated original steps.

The building houses Admissions, International Education and Programs, Development and other offices, classrooms and a ballroom, in addition to students in east-wing residences. There are no plans to displace anyone using the building, though Lloyd said the contractor only would work on the residential end of the building from mid-May to the end of August.

Classes began meeting in the building in fall 1913. There have been numerous interior renovations and additions since. Sheldon Hall received its latest interior renovation in 2005, a $4.6 million restoration and reopening of the west wing.

PHOTO CAPTION: Historic hall—Project coordinator Bob Lloyd of Facilities, Design and Construction at SUNY Oswego carries architectural plans for the upcoming $10 million historic preservation of the college’s “Old Main,” Sheldon Hall, whose cornerstone was laid 100 years ago. Visible over Lloyd’s shoulder is the cupola and two of its four spaces for clocks, which will make a return during the extensive preservation project, expected to be completed in late 2012 or early 2013.

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(Posted: Jan 19, 2011)

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