News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 16, 2014

Demolition under way in remodel of ISU’s historic Normal Hall

TERRE HAUTE — The sounds of heavy equipment, impact drills and even a large wrecking ball are evidence of a renovation under way at Normal Hall, Indiana State University’s oldest academic building.

Demolition is on a structure added to the historic building in the 1950s for book storage.

“It only had seven-foot ceilings, so it could only be used for storage. It is well built, with steel frame and concrete, and there is lots of reinforcing steel in the concrete, so it is a difficult demolition, but they are making good progress on it,” said Bryan Duncan, ISU’s director of capital planning and improvements.

A wrecking ball is being used to break through the reinforced concrete flooring.

Demolition work is about 30 percent completed, Duncan said.

Work includes some selective demolition of interior walls on the original Normal Hall, dedicated in 1910. That work is for the placement of new electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, Duncan said.

Separate piles of steel beams, concrete and reinforcing bar can be seen on the site next to the Richard G. Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts. Those materials will be recycled as part of the bid from Bloomington-based Weddle Brothers Building Group, the general contractor on the project, Duncan said.

Work started in May on the $16 million renovation project, scheduled to be completed in July 2015.

A glass-enclosed atrium will replace the 1950s section, as the new Normal Hall will house the University College and Center for Student Success, which is to provide freshmen and other students with primary instruction, tutoring and advising.

While the building has been primarily used for storage or office space, ISU has maintained the building, including replacing windows and its roof within the last 15 years, Duncan said.

Normal Hall was listed on the National and Indiana Register of Historic Places in 2002. The building, which served as ISU’s library from 1910 until 1973, is constructed of Indiana limestone and features Italian Renaissance architecture.

“One of the building’s main features is an opalescent art glass dome covering the grand rotunda, which pays tribute to 24 of the great philosophers and educators, including six from Indiana,” Duncan said.

That dome, which has been obstructed by a false ceiling since the 1950s, will be restored toward the end of the project, along with final interior finishes, Duncan said. Restoration/replacement of the dome is expected to cost $500,000 to $1 million.

The original Normal Hall contains 65,390 gross square feet, with 42,430 net square feet assigned for occupant use. The building’s front stairway and entrance were moved and replaced by a ground-floor entryway in the mid-1950s. Renovation work will include restoring 17 steps on the south side of the building that faces ISU’s Quad area.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or


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