By FIONA NALEPA
Seacobeck Hall has sat empty since the end of 2015. Now, the University has begun working toward its renovation plans to make the building into the new home of the College of Education and the Office of Disability Resources by fall 2020.
Seacobeck Hall originally opened its doors in 1931 and served as the main dining space for the University through 2015. In 2015, its doors were closed and the University Center became the new main dining area. Many people on campus were upset at these new changes, mostly due to the high cost to build the University Center and the sentimental ties that many still had to Seacobeck Hall.
Senior communication major Meredith Jennings said she is happy for the upcoming renovations for Seacobeck Hall but had some reservations.
“I’m happy that Seacobeck is finally getting the renovation it deserves,” she said. “It is just sad that it was closed for most of my time here at UMW. And since it won’t open until the fall of 2020 at the earliest most people here on campus now won’t be able to use it either.”
After closing Seacobeck Hall in 2015, there was much deliberation over what would take the dining area’s place in the building. The University finally decided on making Seacobeck the new home of the College of Education. Currently, the College of Education can be found in Trinkle Hall. Trinkle Hall is also the home of various other large departments like Math, Classics, Religion and Philosophy.
Since Seacobeck Hall is a very old building and it used to be a dining area, it needs to undergo various renovations so that it can be fit for the College of Education.
Dean of the College of Education Peter Kelly said, “Faculty, staff, and students in the College of Education are excited that Seacobeck will serve as their new home beginning in the fall of 2020. The architects from Hanbury have done a great job soliciting and incorporating feedback on the building design [from] faculty, staff and students.”
Kelly voiced his appreciation for prioritizing the College of Education and the future teachers emerging from UMW.
“That Seacobeck will be redesigned as the new home for the College of Education is strong indication of the support UMW has for teacher preparation, and we are deeply grateful for that,” Kelly said. “There is a serious teacher shortage in Virginia, and we have a responsibility to help address that.”
According to the associate vice president of Facilities, John Wiltenmuth, the construction plans to revamp Seacobeck Hall will make it more of a classroom and office setting.
“The renovation of Seacobeck will provide new life to the building and a new home to College of Education as well as the Office of Disability Resources,” Wiltenmuth said. “The interior will be reconfigured for classrooms, offices and other support needs. Exterior components, including porches and windows, will be repaired.”
One of the problems that has been brought up with the construction at Seacobeck Hall is the redirection of parking. The area around Seacobeck on College Avenue has often been used for parking by staff and some students.
Wiltenmuth confirmed, “The service lot at Seacobeck will be closed throughout the duration of the project with displacement of a small number of service vehicle and staff parking spaces.”
Seacobeck’s renovations are expected to be complete in August of 2020.