Today, Kansas State University closes out an academic year without access to the Hale Library building. On May 22, 2018, a fire broke out on Hale’s roof during repairs. While the actual fire damage was minimal, smoke and water damage affected almost every part of the building.
Now, nearly a year later, some parts of the 1927 Farrell section of the building are still wet, Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries, said.
“The first and second floors are still drying out almost a year later from the actual day of the fire,” Goetsch said. “They’re limestone and plaster, and that just takes a long, long time to dry.”
Despite the residual effects of the fire, students and staff will be back in Hale Library soon. According to the estimated renovation schedule, the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on the first floor will open in fall 2019. In spring 2020, Hale’s second floor will open, then the fifth.
Renovations are expected to wrap up before 2021.
The first floor will feature group study rooms, a direct entryway from the outside and a cafe operated by Housing and Dining Services, Goetsch said.
“It’ll be similar but different to Cornerstone that they have over in Wefald Hall,” Goetsch said.
While the construction crew works on renovating the first floor, the second floor of Hale is still in the demolition phase. Almost all furniture was removed months ago, leaving piles of rubble and sideways file cabinets. The main area of the third floor is also fairly empty save for the support columns and white bags of fireproofing insulation.
“We’ve had seniors tell us that they really miss spending their last year in Hale and are promising to come back and see what it looks like,” Goetsch said. “This building means so much to this community, and particularly to the students … we look forward to returning it to them.”
In Hale’s most notable room, the Great Room, scaffolding is set up in three long rows stretching the length of the space to support a platform roughly ten feet above floor level. The room’s iconic murals are currently shielded with wooden boxes to avoid damage while the Great Room is restored.
On the raised platform, known as the “dance floor,” construction crew members can reach the Great Room’s high ceiling. Up there, a metal structure provides the skeleton for a new ceiling.
See more photos from inside Hale on the Collegian Media Group Photography website.