For half of April, Main Hall’s 3-ton cupola perched behind the building instead of atop it, so that the roof of the college’s second-oldest edifice could be repaired.
John Barnes (Facilities) explains, “We’re taking the opportunity to lift the cupola off the building and repair the flat roof on the top of Main Hall.” After its removal by crane, the cupola enjoyed a new resting spot behind Main Hall until renovations were complete two weeks later.
“The cupola weighs 6,000 pounds, and we thought the best way to fix the roof leaks that are associated with the mounting that the cupola was sitting on is to take it off, fix the roof, and then renovate the cupola while it’s sitting on the ground,” Barnes says.
A history of change Both Main Hall and the cupola are 109 years old. As the second-oldest building on campus after Old St. Joseph Church, Main Hall has undergone many renovations over the last century.
“Main Hall was built as a complete college at the time,” says Barnes. “It included classrooms, dormitories, recreation rooms, a kitchen and a theatre on the third floor.”
As the college quickly grew, Main Hall’s primary functions shifted as well, requiring numerous renovations.
A fire in 1913 first called for restorations. In 1956, Main Hall’s first floor underwent major remodeling and, in 1979, many offices were moved from Main Hall to the first floor of John Minahan Science Hall.
The late 1980s saw even more offices relocate from Main Hall, and an extensive renovation began that included a partial new roof, energy-efficient windows, repairs to the foundation and an updated central utility boiler. At the end of this renovation in 1989, Main Hall was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its age, architectural significance and importance to the history of the community and higher education.
Today, Main Hall houses primarily administrative offices, including the president’s office; the offices of the academic dean; and the offices of the vice presidents for mission and student affairs, business and finance, and college advancement. Health services and the counseling center are located in the lower level, as well.
Cupola on the move
Watch the drama unfold in this video from "moving day," April 9.