Stephens Hopes to Renovate Historic Halls
The college hopes to turn two historic campus buildings into dorms. The plan to renovate them is in its final stage, while Stephens waits for approval from the Columbia City Council.
"We have really been overwhelmed at the community support for these projects," said college spokesperson Amy Gipson. "People are excited that Stephens is doing so well, and and that we're looking to renovate a couple of wonderful, beautiful, historic buildings that have not been used in recent years."
Columbia Hall is empty and hasn't been used for almost 10 years, but Stephens uses Wood Hall for costume classes and storage. The college closed both buildings when enrollment dropped. Now, enrollment's rising.
"This is going to be a pretty straight-forward project because Stephens is very interested in keeping the historic integrity of the buildings and because it's not a major change of use," said architectual historian Debbie Sheals. "They're really going back in, and with a use that's really comfortable with what was there originally."
Columbia and Wood Hall are on the National Register of Historic Places, so many of their features must be preserved. A private contractor will use tax credits to renovate and run the two dorms.
If the Columbia City Council approves the plan next month, Stephens administrators say renovations could start in April. Students will have priority to live in the new dorms, with any unfilled rooms available for the public.