When Ohio Wesleyan University’s Merrick Hall opened in 1873, it was devoted to the study of science and was among the earliest U.S. college buildings built for such a single academic purpose.
When the 142-year-old building reopens Aug. 20 – following a yearlong, $8-million, donor-funded restoration – Merrick Hall again will be cutting-edge in its academic vision and purpose.
“On the first of its three floors, Merrick Hall will house The OWU Connection, a faculty-led initiative designed to help students connect classroom theory with real-world experience, understand important issues from multiple academic perspectives, and prepare to become moral leaders in the global society,” said President Rock Jones.
The first floor will include offices for two staff members who will help students understand and access all aspects of The OWU Connection, including Theory-to-Practice Grants, Travel-Learning Courses, interdisciplinary Course Connections, and more. The staff and students also will have access to three interactive touchscreens, enabling them to quickly review information about previous OWU Connection experiences that have resulted in students traveling to more than 60 countries and nearly every continent since the program began in 2009.
On its second floor, Merrick Hall will feature state-of-the-art classroom and seminar spaces, including one room with flat screens on each of its four walls. “Faculty and students will be able to utilize each screen simultaneously,” Jones said, “creating an ‘active learning’ environment that supports the hallmarks of a liberal arts education: creative thinking, effective collaboration, and clear communication.”
As for Merrick Hall’s third floor, it will feature elegant event space with a 22-foot ceiling at its highest point. The room also features gothic arches and large windows that overlook the OWU campus to the south and the city of Delaware to the north.
“Besides serving the needs of campus,” Jones said, “this beautiful venue will be available to the community for weddings, catered receptions, and other celebrations.”
In addition to its 19,684 square-foot interior, Merrick Hall’s exterior also has been updated, with special effort made to preserve and refurbish its façade of locally quarried blue limestone. The exterior renovation also added a south-side main entrance and patio that already has served as the backdrop for Ohio Wesleyan’s 2015 graduation ceremony and for the Central Ohio Symphony’s Fourth of July concert.
Ohio Wesleyan will rededicate Merrick Hall at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 20 as part of the annual convocation ceremony that welcomes incoming students and their families to the OWU community. Guided tours of the building, located at 65 S. Sandusky St., will be available from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Designed by renowned architect William Tinsley, Merrick Hall is one of 11 sites on Ohio Wesleyan’s campus included on the Nation Register of Historic Places. The building is named in honor of Frederick Merrick, president of Ohio Wesleyan from 1860 to 1873.