Eastman Hall will soon be getting a facelift and will become a student health facility with
the help of an $18.5 million bond from the state legislature.
While the bond money for the project was approved in the last legislative session, the bill from the state was originally denied earlier in 2017, causing a delay until recently with more push from the university.
“We have been approved by the Legislature this past summer for funding and they are hoping to begin some internal demolition [soon],” Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), John Eggers, Ph.D. said.
CAPS, currently located in Stewart Hall, is among the many student health services that will be relocating to Eastman Hall upon completion of the refurbishment. Other SCSU organizations moving over to Eastman include Student Health Services, UChoose and Recovery Community.
Construction on the building is tentatively set to begin in January 2018 and SCSU hopes it will be ready and open for operation in the fall of 2019.
Eggers said the move for all student health programs to one single building will help their effectiveness in serving students because the different health programs will be only floors apart rather than buildings apart.
“Our departments will [be able to] work more hand-in-glove. Then we can refer and help students get the help they need easier,” Eggers said. “We’re excited because all of us will be able to work more closely with students and each other.”
The currently vacant structure was built in 1929 and originally acted as the university’s recreation center. It’s the fourth oldest building on campus and the inside includes a swimming pool and a basketball court, which served as the home of the Huskies until the opening of Halenbeck Hall in 1965.
As of now, the basketball court is still masked with the old “SC” logo at half court and the long wood-plank bleachers in the gymnasium remain. Although the pool will be dug out and the gym will be removed, the plan is to salvage as many significant remnants as possible.
“There’s some really cool things in the building that we’re working with the construction folks to see if we can salvage [anything],” Director of Student Health Services Corie Beckermann said. “We’re really trying to make an effort to blend the past with the future and save some of those old things and try to incorporate them into the building.”
One of the ideas proposed is to use the wood from the gym floor and bleachers as a wall
decoration in a spot that will be used as a recreational gathering area for students, similar to the space in the Atwood Memorial Center.
Other adjustments to the former gym include changing the pool space into a performance lab. Beckermann said most of the bottom floor will be unusable because most of the space is taken up by mechanical systems for the building. On the flip side, however, she said more space will be added inside of Eastman to create more room.
“Where the basketball court is, that’s where health services will be and because the
ceiling is so high there, they’ll actually be able to add [an entire] floor above the basketball court,” Beckermann said.
The plan is to have CAPS on the top floor above the basketball court and there will also be extra space for academic classrooms on the new addition.
Eastman Hall has been shuttered and neglected since 2013 and is structurally solid. There
will be minor changes to the windows with energy efficient glass, but they will remain in the same shape they are now to match the rest of the building.
Eggers and Beckermann are both excited to see the over 85-year old structure refurbished and restored.
“I’m really excited to have a medical facility that’s in a really exciting older building on the banks of the Mississippi River,” Beckermann said.
Many say is they are most excited to see a landmark and significant piece of SCSU’s history brought back to life and repurposed into something that will continuously help students for years to come.
“It’s really to help our students. I’m excited to be a part of this growth that we’re going to create on the campus and I’m excited about students benefiting for decades,” Eggers said.