University ‘Castle Building’ Receives $4M Reno Grant


A historic building at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, recently received a $4 million state grant for major renovations. Sullivan Hall, also referred to as “the castle building,” dates back almost a century ago and houses several different academic and recreational spaces.

About Sullivan Hall

Opened in October 1929, the structure was designed in Norman Chateau style to contain the university’s gymnasium and swimming pool. The architect for the project was Carlton Strong, who also designed several other buildings on campus.

Construction began in 1928 and was inspired by Seton Castle in Europe. In total, the recreation center cost around $270,000 to build.

The gym space was built on the fourth floor to “easily adapt” into a social hall for college functions or an auditorium. Galleries were constructed encircling the floor to accommodate up to 1,000 spectators.

A swimming pool occupied the first and second floors, surrounded by 30-foot-high windows. Bowling alleys ran parallel to the pool on the first floor, with dressing rooms located on the second floor alongside corrective exercise rooms and an office for the college’s athletic director.

Originally called the Activities Building, the structure was officially renamed in 1947 after the fourth president of then-Seton Hill College, Rev. Daniel Richard Sullivan.

According to the university's Preservation Plan, the roof of Sullivan Hall is a broad hipped slate roof with built-in metal gutters. Conical roofs are displayed at the front corner turrets, with stucco and a half timber motif making up the upper-level facades.

Sandstone covers the turrets and main level, while brick encompasses the main entry and old gymnasium level. The main entry is also trimmed in limestone.

In 2005, a new building was opened to connect to Sullivan Hall, with its exterior walls serving as the new Katherine Mabis McKenna Center’s interior walls. The university’s president at the time, President JoAnn Boyle, said she saw the joint buildings as a symbol of continuity.

Today, Sullivan Hall houses a bookstore, café, auxiliary gym, offices, laundry rooms and student lounges. While the community once offered swimming lessons from the building, pool has since been closed to students and the public.

Grant Renovation Plans

While the university originally requested $10 million in grant funding, TribLive reports that Sullivan Hall’s renovation project was approved for $4 million in funding through Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). Currently in the design phase, the project will provide updated spaces for growing academic programs and a student center while maintaining the building’s iconic architecture.

Sullivan Hall is “beloved by generations of Seton Hill alumni, who appreciate its architectural style and its location in the heart of our campus,” said SHU President Mary C. Finger. “By renovating Sullivan — while still maintaining its unique look and features — we will be able to extend the life of this important campus landmark while meeting the needs of today’s students.”

The project will reportedly involve selective demolition and interior construction while addressing roofing, plumbing, electrical utilities, mechanical systems and fire protection. Construction will also include work on the building’s foundation, superstructure and exterior enclosure.

One focus of the renovation will include energy conservation, featuring energy-efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning equipment. Additionally, the exterior walls and roof will be insulated to reduce energy consumption.

“When I think of campus, Sullivan Hall is one of the first buildings that I envision,” said Haley Carnahan, a SHU alumna and Editorial Assistant for PaintSquare Daily News. “I’m excited that it will be receiving some much-needed upgrades to bring it into this century, while still retaining its historically inspired design.”

Greensburg municipality officials were anticipated to accept the redevelopment program funding on behalf of the Sullivan Hall project at a council meeting last week.

A full list of projects awarded in the latest round of funding through the RACP can be found here.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Colleges and Universities; Commercial / Architectural; Commerial/Architectural; Funding; Grants; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Renovation; Upcoming projects

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