Nicholson Hall renovation will begin spring semester

Tricia Michel

The University will begin renovating a 110-year-old historic building next semester.

The Legislature authorized $24 million in state and University funds last year to revamp Nicholson Hall.

University architect John Grundtner said the 88,000-square-foot building has played a significant role in the University’s history.

The renovation will not be the first construction Nicholson Hall has seen.

The original rectangular building was built in 1890. In 1925, two wing additions were added on, and in 1946 an auditorium was built.

Both wings and the original portion of the building will be restored. The auditorium will be demolished and replaced by an outdoor courtyard.

“The building is in pretty good shape considering its age,” Grundtner said.

Nicholson Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning the Minnesota Historical Society must approve design plans.

Once the renovation is completed, the building will be like new, Grundtner said.

Planned changes include new floors and windows, restored wood paneling in the library and relocation of the elevator.

Minneapolis-based Collaborative Design Group is currently finalizing project plans. Principal architect Lee Seppings said the renovation will bring the building back to its former glory.

“Hopefully it will look very similar to when it was built. It just needs a little tender loving care,” Seppings said.

In the past, Nicholson housed the Minnesota Union, classes, the University Film Society and – during World War II – the U.S. Navy.

The new Nicholson will house advising offices, the Student Writing Center, the Language Center and 24 new classrooms.

Much of the building cost will come from updating the structure and bringing it up to code. New heating and air conditioning systems will help modernize and preserve the building.

Spring semester classes held in Nicholson Hall will be relocated to temporary locations. The University expects construction to be completed in summer 2005.