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Residence hall renovations on tap

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Renovations of two residence halls on the campus of Elizabeth City State University should be completed sometime in 2020.

Members of Elizabeth City State University's Board of Trustees met Wednesday with representatives of a dozen architectural firms interested in the university's planned construction project that would renovate two residence halls on campus and demolish two others.

The trustees are expected to consider the firms' proposals and select an architectural firm for the project this fall.

University officials expect a two-year construction period after the $20 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is approved. Loan approval is expected in January or February of 2018.

The project consists of the renovation of Butler Hall and Bias Hall, and demolition of Hugh Cale Hall and Doles Hall.

Both Butler and Bias will be used as residence halls. ECSU spokesman Rob Kelly-Goss explained that room changes, styles and layouts are yet to be determined and will be worked out during the advanced planning and design phases.

The three-story Butler Hall is a residence hall that was built in 1924 and named for John Henry Manning Butler, the second teacher at the institution. The building had a 1939 addition as well as previous renovations in 1983 and 1994.

Bias Hall, a three-story residence hall built in 1938, has been renovated a number of times in its nearly 80-year history. The building is named for John Henry Bias,the institution's second president.

One of the buildings being demolished, Hugh Cale Hall, is a three-story residence hall built in 1956 and renovated in 1984. The building is named for the university's principal founder, the Honorable Hugh Cale, a black legislator from Pasquotank County who introduced the 1891 bill in the N.C. General Assembly that established an institution to train black teachers for North Carolina schools. That 1891 institution became what is today ECSU.

The other building being demolished, Doles Hall, is a three-story residence hall constructed in 1956. The building is named for the Rev. John Thomas Doles and Mary Deloatch Doles, former faculty members.

The project budget is $10 million and will be fully funded through the USDA loan.

The university is seeking a $20 million, 40-year loan from USDA that will save interest costs by refinancing $10 million in existing debt and will provide the $10 million needed for renovating Butler Hall and Bias Hall and demolishing the other structures.

ECSU Chancellor Thomas Conway told the university's Board of Trustees at the board's September meeting that the university is looking for ways to honor Cale and Dole since the campus buildings named for them are being demolished. Conway said ways to honor them as the project moves forward might include appropriate signs or naming of other campus facilities.

The chancellor said the decision to demolish the structures was absolutely not made with any disrespect to the university's history or the vital contributions of those leaders.

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