Academic Hall at Southeast Missouri State University is now open for business after two-and-a-half years of renovation.
The university held a ribbon-cutting celebration Thursday night to commemorate the century-old building’s restoration.
Southeast President Ken Dobbins said few people have had the opportunity to view the inside of the dome until now.
“Inside we have this intricate latticework of wood that is just beautiful. So now we have a dome room. An elevator comes up there and you can actually sit there, have a meeting, have lunch, have dinner and look up and you can see the inside latticework of the dome,” Dobbins said.
Contractors paid attention to detail, and replaced some tiny damaged tiles to match those they were able to salvage. They replicated some old lighting fixtures that were purchased at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
"We have light fixtures from the World’s Fair, the St. Louis World’s Fair. We had one individual who replicated it so we could have more than just the originals,” Dobbins said.
The restoration brought out many of the building's historic qualities while simultaneously incorporating modern educational technology. The interior of the iconic dome is now accessible by an elevator, and visitors can view the dome's intricate latticework from a glass-enclosed meeting room.
Academic Hall will house an academic program for the first time since the early nineties. The Communications Studies department will make its home in the building's third floor.