Renovations scheduled to Weckesser, Bedford halls

Austin Loukas

Anthony Bartoli, Correspondent

Renovations to Weckesser and Bedford halls are scheduled to begin soon, and President Leahy’s office will move to Weckesser Hall following the renovations.

Weckesser Hall is one of “the marquis buildings on campus,” as Vice President of Finance and General Counsel Loren Prescott calls it.

“Weckesser Hall is one the largest and maybe most visible,” Prescott said. “It certainly is in a key location in the central part of campus.”

It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When you walk into Weckesser Hall, you are greeted with a chandelier that hangs from a 24-foot chain, an old elevator (which still works), a beautiful grand staircase and exquisite detail everywhere you look.

From 1914 to 1916, Charles H.P. Gilbert of New York constructed the home of Frederick J. Weckesser. “The Castle,” as it was previously known, originally had a ballroom on the third floor, where  School of Business classes are now located.

Wilkes acquired the mansion in 1956 after  Anna Weckesser passed away. From 1964 to 67, the hall was used as a female dorm.

Prescott says that Weckesser Hall hasn’t undergone a major renovation in about 20 years.

Along with just general upgrades to the building, there are more reasons why the renovations are taking place.

“The other reason is that our new president, Patrick Leahy, very much wants his office and the presence of the president’s office to be in the central part of the campus.”

The president’s office is located on the edge of campus in the University Center on Main building.

“It is an important part of the university’s commitment to the community to have a presence on South Main Street,” Prescott said, “but his (Leahy’s) feeling is that the president’s office belongs in the heart of the campus.”

The move from UCOM to Weckesser Hall means that the president, along with his cabinet, will move their offices to Weckesser as well.

The renovations to Weckesser are only to make the building suitable for office space for President Leahy and his staff.

“This is not a major, expensive renovation. There will be some painting done, and I think some of the floors are going to be refinished. Just a basic facelift for a building that needed it,” Prescott said.

The renovations to Weckesser do not have a final price because the university is still in the process of pricing all of the work that needs to be done to the building.

Another reason why there is no final price or budget for the renovations to Weckesser Hall is because Wilkes decided to push the renovations back until after Homecoming.

Prescott said the university is only in the second week of the project.

“Our hope is that we can have the president and his staff in the building by the first of December,” he said. “In other words, we are hoping that the renovation work will go quickly. However, we also recognize that there are some uncertainties associated with that work, and it might be that we have to delay it until the holiday.”

Changes will be made to Bedford Hall as well.

Bedford Hall, which in 1967 was known as the “new building on campus,” was 1878 by Bruce Price. The home, the former residence of attorney Paul Bedford and his wife, was given to Wilkes University in November 1967, after Bradford had passed away.

The home was designed in High Victorian Gothic style. The home is said to be the earliest of Bruce Price’s homes still in existence. (Wilkes.edu)

Paul Kaspriskie, Wilkes University project manager, is in charge of overseeing the construction projects.

“We are moving the art department to Bedford Hall,” Kaspriskie said.

The art department was in Bedford Hall originally, and then moved out several years ago,” Kaspriskie said, “Now they’ve decided to go back to Bedford Hall.”

“The first floor and second floor are going to get a facelift. We are going to create some classroom space, and some studio space on the first floor. The printing press will be located on the first floor, too.”

Offices and a classroom/studio will be added on the second floor.

The university is also going to provide handicapped access to the building, which will include a wheelchair lift at the side entrance to the building.

“The renovations are due to start any time now, we are just putting together the final pieces.”

Kaspriskie said the renovations should be completed during the holiday break.

Renovations to both Bedford and Weckesser halls are scheduled to begin within the coming weeks, and to be completed by start of the spring 2013 semester.