Roscoe West Hall – otherwise known as the Old Library – has been a staple of the College since it was added initially to Ewing back in the early 1930s. With the traditional Georgian colonial style exterior, Roscoe West was the first building to begin construction on campus, and the third one completed after Kendall Hall and Green Hall in 1932. While the Old Library has a rich history, its age has finally caught up to it.
“The building needs fairly extensive renovations, but that is not taking place right now,” said David Muha, vice president for Communications, Marketing and Brand Management. “We are trying to preserve the building the best that we can so that it doesn’t deteriorate until we get to the point where we can go ahead and renovate the building.”
At a hefty $2.4 million price tag, the College is referring to the construction as the “Mothballing Project.” Some of the bigger renovations taking place consist of replacing the old roof with new, synthetic slate, eliminating asbestos, fixing the bricks and windows and repairing the plumbing system.
“When you walk past the building and just look up at the building, you will notice that the paint is peeling, there’s damage to the gutters, so that is causing water to get into the building and that is causing deterioration,” Muha said. “We are taking the steps that are needed today because we do want to preserve and restore the building.”
According to Taras Pavlovsky, the dean of the Library, this renovation is long overdue.
“I am very happy they are spending the money because (Roscoe West) had slate roofs which have a lifespan of about 75 years, so from 1930 to 2014, we are well beyond that,” he said.
In fact, Pavlovsky has even witnessed first-hand why the renovation is so badly needed.
“I saw what happened when a piece of slate fell off the roof one time during some strong wind … and it could have taken someone’s head off,” he said. “Now just from a general responsibility point of view, thank God the College fixed it, because somebody could have gotten seriously hurt.”
While Roscoe West has only been used for storage purposes since building the current library in 2005, there are still plans to have a complete renovation done within the next few years.
“You have a historic building right at the heart of the campus, and for a college that is as tight on space as we are, it will be valuable in terms of helping the College grow,” Muha said. “We are talking in the tens of millions of dollars to do any renovations, and right now, the focus of the college from a building standpoint is really the STEM project and the renovation of the Brower Student Center.”
In the meantime however, all that can be done is sit back and speculate what Roscoe West will become.
“It has some wonderful spaces, but personally I think it is a wonderful place for the president’s office,” Pavlovsky said. “It has high ceilings, obviously it would have to get reconfigured and have air conditioning put in, but it has some wonderful spaces there, and (when it’s finished, it is) going to have a visual impression on people.”