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Ribbon cutting for Wilson Hall

Ribbon cutting for Wilson Hall renovations planned for April 12

TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State University will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 12 to celebrate the $20 million renovation of the venerable Wilson Hall.

The ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. in front of the newly renovated Wilson Hall located west of the John Vaughan Library and originally constructed in the 1930s as a women’s dormitory.

Speakers will include NSU President Steve Turner, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Debbie Landry, RUSO Board of Regents Chair Connie Reilly, Northeastern Student Government Association President Brooklyn Neff and NSU alumna and former Wilson Hall resident Bertie Cooper.

Dr. Mike Chanslor, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will also provide opening and closing remarks.

At the close of the ceremony, NSU officials will cut the ribbon to celebrate the completion of the renovation before interested attendees can take self-guided tours of the transformed space.

Named for the legendary Florence Wilson, longtime principal of the Cherokee Female Seminary, Wilson Hall opened its doors to students in the spring of 1937 as a women’s dorm.

The original dorm was built under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration to house 184 girls. Over the years, the number of residents grew and in 1960 it was remodeled to have an addition on the northside of the original dorm’s east wing.

In the 1970s, the dorm was redesigned to serve as a coed residence. It became housing for single men and women or married couples without children, ages 21 or older.

After serving as a dormitory for many decades, Wilson Hall was temporarily closed in 2011 as NSU officials pondered the building’s future as campus and student needs evolved over time. With strong support from current NSU students, alumni and the community, it was decided to convert the former dormitory into the new home for the College of Liberal Arts. All undergraduate students enrolled in on-campus courses will take most of their liberal arts general education classes in Wilson Hall.

Funding for the project came from private donations, infrastructure fees, dedicated reserve funds and Section 13 funds provided by state statute.

With a basement, three floors and an attic space, the 60,000 square-foot space was converted over several years to add classrooms, including two large ones in the attic, an event space, a lobby/art gallery, banquet area, conference rooms, labs, studios and offices for faculty and administration.

Crews worked to retain some of the original hardwood and terrazzo flooring, wood fireplaces, chandeliers and other features as they made modern upgrades such as bringing the building up to code adding an air conditioning system and elevator.