Steel Shots: Campus Revival

Cowles Hall is at the center of Elmira College’s campus. But at one point it was the entire campus.

The facility was built in 1855 when the college was founded in Elmira, N.Y. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it served as the sole facility for the all-female college (which has been coeducational since 1969), functioning as a student dormitory, dining hall, classroom space and library; it was later named after Dr. Augustus Cowles, the College’s first president.

In 2010, Elmira College, which now has nearly 1,200 students, commissioned an extensive $29 million stabilization and restoration of Cowles Hall, which had been out of use for nearly 20 years. The project was completed in two parts: 1) stabilization of the foundation and construction of a shell in preparation for interior demolition and 2) rebuilding the interior floor by floor.

In addition to the critical structural rehabilitation, rebuilding the interior meant restoring the building’s main level to its original function as a public campus space. This included a new four-story, 3,345-sq.-ft chapel in the east wing and a lounge, offices and conference room in the west wing, all connected by an octagonal central Remembrance Hall reception area. The upper three floors were prepared as flex space for a future nursing school.

To learn more about the project, read the article in the current July issue of MSC.