By Gary Budzak
Ohio Wesleyan University broke ground on the $8 million renovation of Merrick Hall on May 16 in a ceremony that featured speakers and a time capsule.
“It’s an OWU icon that’s been offline for more than 25 years,” Thomas Tritton, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, said of Merrick. He recalled taking Spanish in the building before it closed.
History professor Richard Smith noted that when Merrick opened in 1873, it was one of the earliest all-science buildings at an American liberal arts college. Smith, who taught in Merrick, said its English Jacobean architecture makes it unlike any of the other buildings on the campus.
Zoology professor Amy Downing said Merrick once housed one of the best natural history museums in the state, as well as an aviary. “It’s thrilling news that this building will once again be a vibrant center for academic life,” Downing said.
Class of 2014 vice president Aaradhana Ramesh said she was disappointed to hear that Merrick would be renovated, but then realized that parts of the campus have been transformed since she was a freshman.
Books, a tassel and a letter written by President Rock Jones went into the time capsule, to be opened 100 years from now. In his letter, Jones mused how different things might be in the next century, but trusted that OWU’s principles would be maintained.
Named after former OWU President Frederick Merrick, the 19,684-square-foot building was constructed from materials from Blue Limestone Park.
Jones said the restored building would house a curricular initiative called the OWU Connection and a space for special events. Merrick is expected to reopen in fall 2015.
As part of Alumni Weekend, the public is invited to take a free tour of Merrick from 9 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. May 17.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-363-1161 ext. 340 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.