What’s Old is New Again: Inside Emerson Hall
A bright Pittsburgh flag hangs in front of a couch scattered with records. Proud Pittsburgh resident Will Tomer’17, above, the first student to occupy this space since 1977, is happily surrounded by a whole lot of vinyl in his home-away-from-home. The truth is that Room 207 feels more like a first apartment than a typical dorm room. Tomer cherishes the differences after bunking down last year in a cramped room, about the size of the kitchen in his new place.
Tomer describes landing here his senior year as “karma” and a “nice little graduation present.” After drawing a low number in the room lottery, he was among about 55 students to secure spots in the newly opened Emerson Hall. His place, a single with a nice floor plan and a kitchen, bath, and combination living room/bedroom, is filled with posters, sports memorabilia, other ephemera, and a fraction of his complete record collection, including his favorite Bob Dylan albums. Much like Emerson Hall itself, Tomer’s records are a wonderful throwback to the past, a reminder that what’s old is sometimes new again.
Before Emerson Hall reopened for student housing this fall, the landmark building had been sitting empty after a 2013 fire ended its previous life as an apartment building for senior citizens. Built in 1897 as Beloit’s first women’s dorm, it was later a favorite co-ed hall. The college sold Emerson in 1982 during a period of low-enrollment but retained an option to repurchase. A ribbon-cutting celebration was held in August after the repurchase and restorations were made possible by donors.