Sheldon Hall to return to vital campus role

Sheldon Hall workSUNY Oswego’s oldest and signature building, Sheldon Hall, has gained a surge of new life in its 95th year.

With the start of the spring semester, features such as five state-of-the-art classrooms, the Office of Admissions and the Oswego Children’s Center will reinvigorate the building’s west wing.

When remodeled learning spaces and a reopened historic classroom accommodate students, it will mark the first time since the 1980s that Sheldon Hall has hosted classes, said Jerry Desantis, associate vice president for facilities services.

The building’s long and storied history began when its cornerstone was laid in 1911, but only recently has it rejoined the campus community after budget cuts forced its closure in the early 1980s. (See list of important Sheldon Hall dates.)

Funding of the $5 million west-wing project comes from the SUNY Construction Fund capital plan approved in 2004, although the planning phase goes back several years. The allocation was part of $52 million in capital funding for Oswego to continue its campus-wide renewal plans.

The building features five classrooms, plus common/study areas and lounges, on the building’s third floor. Wood paneling, large windows and soaring architecture preserve the building’s classic look. The spaces will host School of Education classes in the spring.

One floor below, the new Office of Admissions is open to greet future students. Interior renovations have carved out a welcoming reception area, several offices for counselors and a large space to host sessions for prospective students and families. The refurbished area will allow most admissions programs to unfold in one convenient location.

“We really wanted to enhance the use of Sheldon Hall as a front door to the campus,” Desantis said. “It’s going to start to be more of a main entrance point.”

On the first floor, several big, bright, airy rooms welcome the Oswego Children’s Center. The expanded daycare center will accommodate children of employees and students while also meeting daycare needs of the broader community. An $86,500 grant from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services supported setup costs for equipment, furnishing and supplies that fill a half-dozen learning rooms.

Also of note are renovations that have restored the showpiece historic lecture hall, Room 110. Dating to the building’s opening and showcasing a traditional raised layout, the room will greet classes in the spring.

The building’s recognition as a national landmark required special consideration during the renovations. “We needed to maintain the hallways to the original look. We needed to maintain the exterior to the original look,” explained John Moore, the engineering coordinator for the college’s Office of Facilities, Design and Construction.

In designing the rehabilitation, JCM Architects worked with the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. PAC Construction spearheads renovations.

While the completion of renovations and the imminent influx of students again will bring Sheldon Hall full circle, it also prepares the college for more future improvements. Moving offices into Sheldon from Swetman Hall allows that building to undergo extensive renovations as part of the Campus Center project, Desantis said.

For more information on campus improvements, visit the Renewing Oswego Web site.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Historic hall—Vern Clark, a carpenter with PAC Construction, works on a doorframe on the third floor of SUNY Oswego’s Sheldon Hall in November. Featuring five classrooms with updated technology, common/study areas and lounges, this floor will reopen to classes for the first time in more 20 years in the spring semester. The $5 million project rehabilitating the historic building’s west wing is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

(Posted: Nov 16, 2005)