Preservation of the Wall House

 

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Statement by Richard H. Wells, Chancellor
November 29, 2000

Community
Planning
Wall House
Preservation
Long term use
Image of Wall House

 

Community (top)

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a key member of a broader community. Our efforts are joined with those of others in the City of Oshkosh and still others in the Fox River Valley. These links circle out from the campus and this immediate region to extend out beyond the state to include community in the broadest possible sense. This notion of a sense of expanded community is important as we talk about other issues closer to campus, such as our physical plant and facilities.

 

Planning (top)

For the past several years, our campus has been working on a master plan to shape, guide, and influence the development of our existing resources. During this period, we have also been developing a space utilization plan that examines more closely how we manage the existing space. These efforts help us to better understand our existing campus and how we use these buildings and facilities. These efforts help us to understand where improvements are needed, and where additional buildings or facilities might be established.

 

Wall House (top)

These notions of community and campus planning are central concepts that will be a part of our University's efforts for the foreseeable future. Recognizing the value we place on community and planning allows us to address an issue that has been the subject of considerable interest and speculation namely, the Wall House, the former residential facility that presently serves as the University's Multicultural Education Center (MEC).

The Wall House is a stately structure that is representative of the character and quality of the community that was here before our campus was developed to its present condition.

The Wall House as with the Oviatt House and the Pollock House represents a linkage back from our present campus to the notion of community that was here before our academic buildings and facilities came into existence.

 

Preservation (top)

Universities like ours have a special relationship with the notion of history and the sense of shared responsibility we have to serve as good stewards and able custodians of the record of history that is a part of our development.

The Wall House is in dire need of repairs, improvement and basic refurbishment. Succinctly stated, the core infrastructure and the accommodations in the Wall House are not presently suitable for the functions that we are trying to deliver at that location.

We know the State of Wisconsin does not have sufficient tax resources to help restore facilities such as the Wall House ... and that the scarcity of resources makes this extraordinarily difficult to envision how that level of needed investment can be made in that facility.

There are groups of faculty, staff and students supplemented by members of the University's extended community that have embraced the preservation of the Wall House as a personal priority. These individuals have been concerned and frustrated to learn that the University's evolving plans did not include a role for that facility. They have adopted the goal of seeking to preserve the Wall House and to prevent its removal as an unneeded facility.

 

Preservation of the Wall House (top)

Having noted these conditions, and recognizing that the advocates for the preservation of the Wall House believe that it is possible to raise sufficient private funds to help with the preservation (and improvement) of this facility, the purpose of this announcement is to indicate that there are no plans for razing the Wall House. We have decided to obtain a thorough assessment of the condition of the facility, along with estimates of the work needed to be done to preserve the Wall House as part of our campus for the foreseeable future.

We intend to gather information required to assess the feasibility of allowing a concerted private fundraising effort to be established to provide a stream of new resources that will allow the Wall House to be improved and preserved.

We will continue to meet with advocate groups to gather their ideas and to enlist their support for these efforts. The fund-raising efforts will be on the basis of the goal of helping to preserve the Wall House, and will not be in competition with other fundraising efforts that are oriented toward student scholarships and other established initiatives relating to existing programs.

For the reasons stated in this announcement, we are intending to make the following interim improvements to the Wall House:

  1. upgrading the electrical service to allow for a higher use of computer equipment and to cool the building in the summer;
  2. adding a new water service and sewer line to ensure the availability of an adequate number of restrooms for the facility; and
  3. patching and painting the walls and ceilings, where necessary, and make window replacements and insulation, as appropriate.

 

Long Term Use (top)

This announcement about preserving the Wall House, does not address the question of what activities and functions are best suited for that house in the long run.

We know that the Multicultural Education Center has served as a key center for teaching, learning, and sharing on our campus. We also know that the Wall House - in its present condition - is not suitable nor is it desirable for the location of that function, or other functions. It is for this reason we are making the necessary interim improvements noted above.

The current plans that have been under development relating to the relocation of some of the Multicultural Education Center functions to the soon-to-be expanded Reeve Union, or to the soon-to-be-refurbished Elmwood Commons will remain as tentative plans. Nonetheless, the Wall House will continue to serve as the Multicultural Education Center for approximately four years.

In addition to the present Multicultural Education Center program functions, other potential long-term uses of the Wall House will be examined as part of our on-going space utilization planning.

 

 

Questions and comments can be e-mailed to webmaster@www.uwosh.edu
Last updated on November, 2000

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