July 01, 2015

Emerson Hall Makes a Triumphant [and Unexpected] Return

One of Beloit’s earliest and best-known buildings is returning to the college thanks in large part to the generosity of two donors.

Emerson Hall, built in 1897 as the first college residence for women, will be renovated in the coming year and reopened as a residence hall for around 60 students in the fall of 2016. Plans to put Emerson back online were announced at Beloit’s 2015 Commencement.

Jim and Nancy Packard of Roscoe, Ill., are the lead donors in the renovation project. Their gift allows the college to reacquire the building and begin restoring it for college use. Jim Packard is a longtime trustee of the college.

In 1982, due to flagging enrollment, the college had transferred temporary ownership of Emerson Hall to another entity, which operated it as an apartment building until a September 2013 fire closed it down. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been unoccupied since the fire. The college reached agreement with Emerson Hall Associates, the temporary property owners, to reacquire the building, which has not housed students since 1977.

“This is a day the college has been dreaming about for more than 35 years,” said College President Scott Bierman. “Through the generosity of these donors, the college has regained its northern anchor, and one of our city’s most beautiful and historic buildings—and just in time too,” he said, referring to the large incoming class of 2019.

The college will begin raising additional funds and working on the building this fall.


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