Beauty Takes Time

Immediately after commencement on May 20, work began in earnest on the restoration of Main Hall. After years of leaking classrooms and temporary patch jobs, Wagner College was in the position to attack the root of the problem: The 80-plus-year-old building needed a new roof, new windows, repointing of the brickwork, and restoration of concrete ornaments, which had been degraded by acid rain.

As so often happens in life and construction, it took starting the job to see how extensive the necessary repairs were. Not only would it cost more than originally projected, but it would take more time. Much more time. Main Hall would not be available for the fall semester, perhaps not even the spring.

Staff members quickly huddled to find solutions: more than a dozen classrooms, art and dance studios, faculty offices, and the Main Stage Theatre would be inaccessible for the fall — but at a college, no matter what, the show must go on.

President Guarasci gets a closer look at the Main Hall work.

Bringing temporary classrooms to campus was not feasible. The space had to be found in existing campus buildings, and found it was: From Reynolds House to Harborview Hall to the Union, the Spiro Sports Center, and more, every available space on campus has been transformed, for a time, into a classroom or office. The theatre program is producing its Main Stage shows nearby on Staten Island, at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center's Music Hall.

“These solutions may cause inconveniences by making some spaces, which will be pressed into use as classrooms, less available for other uses,” said President Guarasci in a message to campus. “But, these are necessary inconveniences, because I cannot permit further deterioration of Main Hall.”

The work on Main Hall is proceeding well, and the current estimated cost is $12 million. This year's Annual Fund is dedicated to raising money to defray the expenses of restoring this Wagner icon.