Georgia College held a grand reopening of Ennis Hall Thursday.
Ennis Hall has undergone a two and half year transformation from the remnants of a 1920s women's dormitory to a highly interactive, useable space that will be the home to the Georgia College Department of Art.
"This is a very exciting time for our department. Our environment affects our identities, and this move brings us physically closer to campus as we bring the university closer to us," said Bill Fisher, chair of the Department of Art. "We look forward to using Ennis as not only a resource for our students, but also for the community as a whole, as we continue to provide art exhibits and showcase our student work and the works of others in this new space."
With the completion of Ennis Hall, Georgia College continues to move forward in its goal of preserving the past, while bringing campus buildings into the modern world of academia.
“What a place to house the department of art. The building itself is a work of art,” Georgia College President Dr. Steve Dorman said.
The first lady of Georgia, Sandra Deal, former GC student with the class of 1964, celebrated the reopening for a different purpose. Deal reminded the crowd the building was named after former Sen. J. Howard Ennis.
Click here to see video footage of the ceremony:
The Milledgeville native played an important role in proposing that women should have a fair shot at four-year college degrees.
“Ennis Hall is a great place for people to come together,” Deal said Thursday. “I've seen the building in good days, really bad days and now again really good days.”
Both Deal and Dorman thanked the state legislators for their hard appropriation work.
The university and Board of Regents provided initial funding for design before receiving appropriations in 2012 and 2013. Official funding from the state Legislature came in two parts, with the first construction funding in May 2012, and furniture, fixtures and equipment funding in 2013.
Ennis Hall boasts a notable history as a dormitory for Georgia Normal & Industrial College. The original construction cost $50,000 in 1918.
The dorm underwent a swift change in 1943, four years into World War II, after the university was chosen as one of the four American campuses to train WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
With the opening of Napier Hall in 1972, Ennis gave way to a new era of student housing. The building transitioned to much needed academic and administrative space, housing the School of Nursing, the Department of Psychology and the GIVE Center over the years.
Ennis Hall underwent an architectural process known as adaptive reuse, which is the act of using an older building for a purpose for which it wasn't initially intended. Many structures on campus including Terrell Hall, constructed in 1908 as a residence hall, have undergone adaptive reuse, turning campus buildings into useable office and educational spaces.
"Because we are Georgia College, having these historical buildings throughout our campus is something we should celebrate," said Michael Rickenbaker, university architect and director of Facilities Planning. "We could do what other schools do and rebuild or gut the building, but what we chose to do is something that was compassionate and recognized its historical past."
The restoration was planned by Lord Aeck Sargent (LAS) architects, and the building was renovated by the construction manager Garbutt/Christman.