SPRINGFIELD, Ohio --- Work began this week on a three-phase project to restore Myers Hall, Wittenberg University’s original building and most recognizable icon.
Midwest Maintenance Inc., of Piqua, Ohio, began work to wash down the entire structure Wednesday in preparation for repainting the traditional red walls and white cupola.
Not just a famous landmark to Springfielders and Wittenberg alumni, Myers Hall was the featured subject for November in a just-published 2004 calendar titled "Ohio Places." The photos were selected from photographer Ian Adams' book of statewide treasures, Ohio: A Bicentennial Portrait.
Myers’ roof will be replaced this summer for the sixth time in its venerable life, the last replacement occurring in 1966. Wittenberg’s board of directors again expressed their commitment to the building at their May 20 meeting when they approved a $3 million plan to preserve and improve Myers.
The first phase will be completed this summer. This work involves safety improvements including fire alarm and lighting systems, as well as replacement of interior furnishings. Summer improvements will also include a new roof, exterior repairs and painting, mechanical system repairs and inside doors.
The final phases will be completed later and are scheduled to include interior and network improvement, air conditioning and the addition of an elevator.
A grass-roots fund-raising campaign proved to be one of the most popular in Wittenberg history, yielding more than a thousand individual gifts. Contributions are still being sought to complete a Challenge Gift from the Turner Foundation of Springfield, Ohio.
In 1846, Wittenberg students joined founding president Ezra Keller in beginning construction of “the college edifice” as it was then called. Keller died before the building was completed in 1851, but it went on to serve every possible function for generations of college students. Nineteenth-century literary giants Isaac Funk ’60, Adam Wagnalls ’66 and the 20th century’s Lloyd C. Douglas ’00 all lived in Myers during their college days.
Since the 1880s Myers has served as a residence hall for students and for servicemen-in-training during both World Wars. In 1918, when students returned to school, they beheld rosy Myers after the most extensive internal and external renovation in its history. The words reported at that time by The Torch, Wittenberg’s student newspaper, will be appropriate again when fall semester begins in August. “The Old Dorm has stood the shocks and ravages of almost 75 years of student life and revelry -- not the tamest or most placid thing in the world. It rears its five stories to the sky as a picturesque monument to the early founders of the institution, and to the memory of Wittenberg of by-gone days.”
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