Crocker Hall renovations to be completed by 2017

Over the summer 2015, new handicap-accessible entrances were renovated to Crocker Hall. (Photo by Brad Leuchte)

Administrators approved a three-year renovation plan for Crocker Hall in 2015 that will be completed in 2017.

However, according to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, the project may be deferred a year to expedite the May Hall air conditioning project.

Hamel said the total cost of the first phase of renovations was $460,000. Phase two will cost $600,000 and the final phase will cost $850,000.

Associate Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Warren Fairbanks said, “What we are concentrating on are the issues with the building that have been giving us the most problems over the years.”

Hamel said the money allocated for this project is “paid for by college operations, which is basically student fees.” The project was prioritized as part of the five-year capital-spending plan.

Phase one of the renovations was completed over the summer. During this stage, workers restored much of the exterior of Crocker Hall, installing double-hung windows and a new roof. They also made the back entrance more handicap-accessible, according to Hamel.

“There was not a lot of new landscape associated with it, just basically putting it back to what it was before all the trucks drove over it,” Hamel said.

Fairbanks said they are going to add accessible men’s and women’s bathrooms and open up the vestibule of the building.

According to Fairbanks, the renovations to the first floor of Crocker will provide offices for the five deans.

“One of the issues that came out of the strategic planning process was the desire to retain Crocker,” said Hamel.

“When we did the study, it was concluded that it was too expensive to do a full renovation of the building for what space you eventually got out of it,” he added.

Paul J. Rogan Company renovated the 1812 House and also worked on Crocker over the summer of 2015, according to Fairbanks.

When administrators decide on a contractor for phase two, they will hire the same contractor to complete the renovations for the final phase of the project, said Fairbanks.

According to Fairbanks, HMFH Architects Inc., a firm located in Cambridge, is currently drafting the design for the remodeled Crocker Hall.

Many professors are happy that the building is becoming more handicap-accessible.

The third and final phase of Crocker will be to reconstruct the hallways on all the floors. This includes installing new flooring and lighting, upgrading the ceiling and painting the walls.

Faculty in the sociology, psychology, education, philosophy, business and economics departments have offices in Crocker Hall. Fairbanks said administrators do not know which of these departments will transfer from Crocker to O’Connor.

“We’ll be transitioning O’Connor Hall, the residence hall, into primarily an office academic building. So some of the occupants who are in Crocker will move to O’Connor,” he said.

Many professors said they liked how big their offices in Crocker are.

Psychology Professor Paul Galvin’s office is located on the third floor of Crocker. He has had an office there for 14 years.

“I can really accommodate students. … I do quite a bit of group work, and it’s not uncommon that I would have five or six students in my office, and I can do that here,” said Galvin.

Joseph D’Andrea, a philosophy professor whose office is also in Crocker, said, “I think it’s a beautiful building. I like the old rooms, the wooden floors and the closets.

“I like the fact that I was sitting here once – it was a few years ago – and a woman walked into my office and said that this had been her dorm room in 1965,” D’Andrea added.

Campus Events is also located in Crocker Hall facing the entrance to Dwight Hall.

Emily Ames, a junior and employee of Campus Events, said, “I like working in Crocker Hall, but I had no idea that they were developing it. I think it’s pretty just the way it is.”

Dakota Howe, a senior, said, “Crocker Hall is being renovated? I honestly had no idea that they were doing this, but I love how pretty and unique the building is. Hopefully, they will still keep it this way.”

Justin Galego, a senior, said, “I think it’s great that they are moving departments out of Crocker because then it will create opportunity for departments’ offices to be all together and it will make it easier for students to meet with their professors.”

Kayla Hopkins, a senior, said, “Working in Crocker was a really cool experience since the building is so old. The architecture and setup of the building is so different than what we are used to, and I really enjoyed that aspect. It was like stepping back in time at points.”

Diane Lowe, an elementary education professor, has worked in the same office on the third floor of Crocker for 40 years.

“It’s the only building I have known for my office, but I like the fact that it’s a mix of a lot of different departments. … That lets me get to know people in all the other majors because there are a lot of faculty in this building,” said Lowe.

She added her office is smaller than others in Crocker. “It’s cozy and I like my view and where it is located. When people want to see me, they can come and have a nice chat. There is one drawback, and that is that you have to be careful because you can hear people next door, but I’ve always had nice people next door, so it’s never been a problem.”

Fairbanks said, “The University is growing. We need the space, and we need the offices. The president and vice president and trustees decided to put some money into Crocker and kind of give it another gasp of life for another 20 years or so.”

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