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Lawther Hall set to reopen in fall

IRIS FASHER
Lawther Hall will be reopening as a co-ed hall in August of 2017 after a renovation process that lasted nearly two years and cost a total of $15 million.

SARAH RITONDALE, Staff Writer

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Students now have the opportunity to go online and request their rooms in the newly renovated Lawther Hall, which will reopen in the fall of 2017. After an approximately two-year renovation process, the residence hall that first opened in the summer of 1940 has now been completely reconstructed.

According to Annie Karr, the assistant director of residence, the renovation’s total construction cost was close to $15 million.

The once all-female dormitory is now a co-ed hall and offers several new amenities different from other dorms on campus.

“I am excited to live somewhere that is not like any other dorms on campus,” said Haley Bunnell, a freshman deciding major. “Since I live in Bender Hall, I know what it is like to live in a box where everyone’s room is exactly the same. I am also excited to be so close to the middle of campus!”

Lawther Hall will offer the first suite style dormitory on campus. (Panther Village and Roth Hall are apartment style complexes.) Although Lawther lacks the kitchen and living room aspect, most rooms will feature a bathroom.

“I feel like it is a mix of the two,” Bunnell said, referring to apartment and traditional dormitory style living.

Lawther will now feature semi-private and private bathrooms in some of the individual rooms. There are some areas of the building that will have a shared floor bathroom, rather than every room having a bathroom.

One of Lawther’s benefits is being ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible with the installation of an elevator and three new entrances to the building. Moreover, the building now features full air conditioning and more inclusive housing options.

In addition to the new amenities, the people involved with the renovation process wanted to maintain Lawther Hall’s historical significance.

“It was due for a complete renovation,” said Dave Peerman, director of residence facilities. “As our oldest residence hall on campus, a lot of people love Lawther so we want to do everything we can to stay connected to its original heritage.”

Karr agreed with this sentiment, saying, “It has a lot of historical value to it.”

Part of that history involves a ghost story.

For years, the fourth floor of Lawther Hall was infamous for being the home of a ghost named Augie, the sightings of whom were first reported back in 1977. Augie has been thought to reside in Lawther’s top floor, affectionately dubbed “Augie’s Attic.” This urban legend is just one example of Lawther Hall’s rich history here at UNI.

Construction workers were told to do everything they can to preserve parts of the building that have been there since Lawther Hall’s inception. Because the building was entirely gutted, they chose certain aspects to keep intact, such as the stairwell.

Elyjah Rivera, sophomore English education major, spoke about the transition to the new co-ed dormitory.

“I think it will be really interesting being a part of the students who are a part of the transition from an all-women’s hall to one that is now mixed genders,” Rivera said.

The price for a double room in Lawther Hall is $2,407 per semester. (The Towers and Quads are $2,237 and a two bedroom apartment in Panther Village is $3,554.) Students can log on to the Departments of Residence (DOR) website, as well as contact them to learn about the various prices of rooms and how they can contract a room in Lawther.

“[The price] takes into consideration the newness of the building, the air conditioning and then just the different types of rooms that are available. There are five different pricing structures for the five different room types,” Karr said.

Another factor that plays into the rooms in Lawther is that if students live in a more traditional style room rather than a suite style room, there will still be a sink in the rooms without bathrooms. Also, every room is equipped with its own thermostat, so students can adjust the heating and cooling in their own rooms according to their personal preference.

The building is open to all upper-class students starting at the sophomore level. Because the DOR is currently in their re-contracting stage, returning students that have previously lived on campus can fill out their housing contract now and select their room.

Students who lived off campus, however, must contact the DOR to help them through the room selection process since it will not be accessible to those students.

Bunnell said she wants to feel more connected to campus, as well as to Lawther Hall’s historical background.

“A room on the fourth floor would be preferred,” Bunnell said. “Not only do I get a cool view of campus, but I get to see what all the fuss about ‘Auggie’s Attic’ really is!”

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Lawther Hall set to reopen in fall