Main Hall fete scheduled for Thursday

Tom Hutton, 262-3439

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Fresh from a $9 million renovation, 88-year-old Main Hall at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will officially reopen for business Thursday following on-campus ceremonies.

Beginning at 9 a.m. near the Main Hall entry, Chancellor Pam Shockley, student leaders, and campus faulty and staff will officially cap the construction project that required 15 months to complete, according to Kathy Griffith, director, University Events and Outreach. At 5:30 p.m., the Colorado Springs community is invited to see the results. CU President Betsy Hoffman will attend the afternoon program.

The 88-year-old campus underwent a $9 million renovation that brought a new roof, wiring, plumbing and much-needed structural rigidity to the university’s birthplace.

A memory book will allow all visitors to share their favorite Main Hall recollections as they view a project that brings original details back into the structure while preparing the building for duty in the 21st century. The building will serve as home for offices that serve and support students in addition to offices of the chancellor, vice chancellors and CU Foundation. The days of students trekking across campus to seek signatures, pay bills, obtain transcripts and visit with their adviser are over. Instead, the campus will see a building that honors its past, first as Cragmor Sanitarium and later as the first building of the fledgling campus. The first classes began in fall 1965 when faculty moved beds out of the building and brought in chairs and chalkboards. The bankrupt Cragmor Sanitarium sold Main, several other buildings and 80 acres, to the university for $1.

Tom Ostenberg, director, Facilities Services, is proud of new windows that duplicate double-hung 1914 originals and that details such as stone fireplaces and an original second floor dining area are opened to view. He’s eager to recount how the original foundation was removed stone-by-stone, concrete retaining walls built and the stones reassembled. With a smile, he points out columns that originally were hollow and decorative. Now, they hide structural steel driven deep into the ground and giving Main Hall a newfound rigidity.

“We came close to losing this building,” Ostenberg said. “A few more years and the structure would have simply failed. We have preserved a piece of the past and prepared it for duty well into the future.”