Anderson Hall, the iconic symbol of Maryville College, has been on campus for 143 years. In its current state, surrounded by unfriendly fences and sporting boarded-up windows, Anderson is undergoing changes. The first comprehensive interior renovation in the history of Anderson Hall is underway after years of planning.
A few years ago, when the Anderson renovation was first being considered, the plan was to renovate Pearsons first. The idea was to use Pearsons to house the faculty while Anderson underwent renovation.
“As part of that process, we had invited proposals from several area contractors to do the Pearsons work,” said Dr. Tom Bogart, president of Maryville College. “When it became clear that that was going to be more money than we were going to be able to put together in that time period, we went back to the contractor we had identified for Pearson’s, Joseph Construction, and asked them if they would be willing to do the Anderson work under the same conditions. They said yes.”
The next step was to choose an architect.
“We invited proposals from seven architect firms, and all seven submitted proposals,” Bogart said. “This is a very desirable project. We selected three for final interviews, and they made presentations to a group that included faculty and staff from Anderson.”
The decision was made to go with Johnson Architecture for the project in the spring of 2012, a few months after the contractor was chosen.
“They came in with not only a good set of ideas, but also a good process for eliciting the ideas from the faculty and staff on how best to use the building,” Bogart said. “We were also looking for people who respected and valued the historic nature of the building.” Considering Anderson’s importance as both the icon for Maryville College and the largest academic building on campus, Bogart knew everything had to be right.
At this point, the first part of the process, demolition, is finished. Demolition involved stripping down the inside of the building to the structure to reveal any surprises that may have caused difficulties in the process.
“By doing the demolition before finalizing the plans, the goal was to uncover any surprises at this point rather than finding them in the middle of the project. We’re glad we did,” Bogart said. “The goal then, is to have very few surprises, and certainly no big surprises during the construction phase which should be beginning literally any day. The biggest surprises we’ve found had to do with the condition of the structure.”
He explained that one of those surprises was that the floors had become very uneven, which was not apparent until the building was no longer divided up into offices and classrooms. This issue was caused by the long distance between the floor support beams. This means that the floors must be leveled and the structure reinforced. The other big surprise was that above every window (all “130 something of them,” according to Bogart) is a wooden lintel laid into the brick. Bogart elaborated and said that since the wood does not hold weight as well as brick, every single window will have to be reinforced. These two projects, Bogart said, are two of the major projects that were unexpected.
Currently, Dr. Bogart’s expectation is that Anderson renovation will be complete in time to use for the spring 2015 semester.
“Right now, we are finalizing plans now that the demolition is complete,” Bogart said. “By demolishing it all the way down to the structure, we were able to identify some work that needed to be done that was invisible behind the plaster walls and floors and ceilings.”
Since Anderson is currently between stages of demolition and construction, a lucky few had the opportunity to see the bare bones of the building. On Saturday morning of homecoming, many alumni and friends of the college that have contributed to the project were allowed inside, as well as the faculty and staff of Anderson.
As for now, the site is completely closed and for safety reasons, construction on the building will be completely finished before classes will be held there again. When Anderson’s doors are open once again, students will find many big changes. There will be an elevator, and heating and air conditioning. The floors will be leveled, and the interior infrastructure will be up-to-date. Despite these modern updates, the historical look of the building will remain intact.
Bogart said he was also excited for the efforts of the college to make Anderson more energy efficient. The replacement of the windows will be a great contributor to energy conservation. Previously, the heat and air circulation were so inefficient in the building that the windows almost always had to be open, and the new windows and air systems should prevent this. One of the most exciting changes is that the new, improved Anderson will feature an exterior amphitheater style classroom on the Pearson’s side of the building.
“We had originally hoped to be able to finish in time to have it done for the fall semester of 2014, but once we got in and saw the structural work that needed to be done, I don’t think that’s going to be realistic,” Bogart said. “If it’s possible, we will do it. But if it’s a question between doing it right and doing it quickly, we’ll do it right because this should be a literally once in a lifetime project.”
“In another few decades, a future president will have to go in and update the electric and the heating and everything like that but if we do this project right, it should be a fantastic building for the rest of my life,” he said.
According to Bogart, Anderson is not only the oldest building on campus, but also the largest academic one. He said with MC’s logo as the Anderson bell tower, there was more than enough incentive for everyone involved to “get it right,” regarding the renovation.
“It’s a great privilege to get to work on a project like this,” Bogart said. “It’s also a great responsibility knowing that every Maryville College student spends a lot of time in there, and that will continue for many years.”