Wrather Hall undergoes renovations and officially re-opens in the spring 2023 semester

By Alex Pologruto | May 11, 2023

Collage of photos of Wrather Hall renovations

Murray State University’s Facilities Management team has finished renovations within Wrather Hall, the first building on Murray State’s campus.

MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State University’s Facilities Management team has finished renovations within Wrather Hall, the first building on Murray State’s campus. The Wrather renovation project budget was set at 1.4 million dollars and included new finishes all around the auditorium – carpet, hardwood, flooring on the stage, refurbishments to the seating, curtains and paint on the walls and ceilings. Additionally, a major structural steel support was installed underneath the stage, and new mechanical and electrical systems were needed to replace outdated systems – two new gas boilers, aimed to get the building off of steam heat, and electrical switchgear and components.

“I am very pleased that we have restored the Wrather Hall auditorium, stage and other parts of the building in order that we can fully use our original building on campus for various events and activities,” said Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson. “The Wrather Hall auditorium has been unused for the past few years due to structural issues with the building and now, it has been beautifully restored and we are very appreciative of the excellent work which has been completed.”

In September 1924, the founding era of Murray State University and at that time referred to as Murray State Normal School, the doors to the first Administration Building were proudly opened. The building served as an all-purpose area with classrooms, offices, science labs, a gymnasium, an auditorium, and a cafeteria in the basement. As the one-building campus grew and expanded to accommodate more students, the Administration Building continued to serve as a spot for a little bit of everything in the early years of campus expansion. In 1967 it was renamed Wrather Hall for Marvin “M.O.” Wrather, a long-serving and dedicated University administrator, and later was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The Wrather West Kentucky Museum has been home to Wrather Hall since 1982.

“First and foremost this [Wrather Hall] is one of the greatest assets on campus,” said Project Manager Chadley Gray. “As the first building at Murray State it was very important for us to do what we could do to keep it going and preserved.”

Wrather Hall is a fundamental piece of Murray State University and renovations were completed to preserve the building for posterity. The renovation project took about two to three years to complete. The General Contractor selected for the project was Pinnacle Inc. out of Benton, Kentucky. They have previously worked and currently work on many renovation projects throughout campus.

“Working with Pinnacle is always a pleasure, they’re a great partner,” said Gray. “Many of the workers employed through Pinnacle are Murray State graduates themselves and being a part of these types of projects are important to them as you can definitely see that through their work. As you walk around and see all of the renovations you can see the attention to detail they put into the project. We are all very pleased with the results.”

The following enhancements were also included in the project:

  • Old carpet was removed on the balcony and new carpet was installed to match the new carpet installed on the Auditorium level.

  • The Auditorium exit doors were completely replaced with new doors, frames and hardware.

  • An extension/new controls were installed in the Automatic Logic Control System for the HVAC building automation system.

  • New controls were installed for the HVAC system.

  • Ceiling light enhancements (LED bulbs) were throughout the Auditorium. New stage lighting was installed along with new balcony spotlights for the stage, and new sound system speakers were installed throughout the Auditorium.

A final inspection and occupancy rating was completed in late March and the staff of Wrather Hall has since moved back in officially re-opening the building for everyday use.

“We want it to be used as an academic facility,” said Director of Facilities Management Jason Youngblood. “The Auditorium seats exactly 252 people, so it is the perfect space for various organizations and other smaller events here on campus.”

Events-wise, smaller lecture series, classes, Greek organization meetings, smaller theatrical productions, musical performances and concerts, and various campus community forums will now be able to be continued being held in the Auditorium because of the complete stage remodeling and renovations.

“[Wrather Hall] Is the original first building on campus,” said Youngblood. “There is a lot of history in this building and to be able to maintain its history has been an absolute privilege.”

Angela Lampe, the Associate Director of Facilities Design and Construction adds that “it needed a little life breathed back into it and that’s exactly what the completion of this project did. It was looking a little worse-for-wear, and now it is one of the jewels on campus again.”

For more information on Wrather Hall please visit lib.murraystate.edu/wrathermuseum/home.

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