Above, a worker tightens a nut on a bolt through one of the steel plates installed to reinforce wooden beams just below the roof. Below, after drilling, a worker on the other side of the beam clears sawdust from the hole.
In addition to buttresses supporting the outside walls, a series of temporary trusses (above) are installed through the building, to support the heavy beams and slate roof during the repair work. Below, a view of the slate roof replacement, a major project undertaken in the 1980s.
Some Knox alumni who returned for 2013 Homecoming got a special treat: an up-close look inside Alumni Hall and a chance to ask experts about its renovation. Representatives of P.J. Hoerr Inc., the project’s general contractor, and Holabird & Root, the architectural firm, led the alumni tours.
Walking through the now-empty building stirred up memories for alumni, including these two members of the Class of 1963, who celebrated their 50th Reunion.
“When we came here in ’59, that was the entrance to the Gizmo,” she said, pointing to a door on the lowest level. “The Gizmo was in the ground floor of Alumni Hall, and then they built the extension onto Seymour Hall and moved the Gizmo -– our sophomore year, I think.”
The Alumni Hall Gizmo, she added, “was tiny, and it was loud. They just served coffee and tea and snacks. Just a few tables. People stood up all the time. And apparently, we loved it.”
“I was a political science major, so I was either in Old Main or this building. This building, in the ’60s, was the core of the school. The ’50s and ’60s. It was a grand old building in its time.”
“They’re doing a superb job. I’m really excited” about the renovation. “That’s why our class contributed $1.8 million just for the [Class of 1963 Office of] Financial Aid -– because if it weren’t for financial aid, most of us wouldn’t be here. That’s an important part of what Knox means to our class.”
The renovation of Alumni Hall will involve complete removal and replacement of interior floors. Because the floors are tied into the walls, temporary steel structures — not unlike the “flying buttresses” in Gothic cathedrals — will support the east and west walls for the time between removal and replacement of the floors. Above, footings were excavated for concrete bases of the steel buttresses.
Below, an ironworker welds the exterior beams.