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Lincoln Hall to be rededicated on Feb. 12, a century after first ceremony

bust of Abraham Lincoln
Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

The restored bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln will greet visitors at the Feb. 12 rededication ceremony of Lincoln Hall.

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2/7/2013 | Mike Helenthal, News Editor | 217-333-5491;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Formal wear isn’t required to attend the Lincoln Hall rededication ceremony, to be held Feb. 12 on the U. of I.’s Urbana campus. But wearing a stovepipe hat wouldn’t totally be out of order.

The ceremony, held on Lincoln’s birthday and 100 years to the day of the original building dedication, starts at 4 p.m. in the Lincoln Hall theater and will celebrate the end of a two-year, $64 million top-to-bottom renovation project.

The project was funded with nearly $58 million in state capital development funds and almost $6 million from the U. of I.

For the rededication, U. of I. Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy and U. of I. President Bob Easter have invited Gov. Pat Quinn and other state dignitaries to join them in delivering remarks on the efforts leading to the hall’s completion.

There also will be a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, a performance by the U. of I. Black Chorus, refreshments and self-guided tours of Lincoln Hall, whose offices and classrooms were reopened last fall.

“We’re excited to have the governor on our campus and we are grateful to the state of Illinois in this landmark effort,” said Ruth Watkins, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which is housed in Lincoln Hall. “The renovated Lincoln Hall is a fitting tribute to Lincoln’s vision of access to higher education for students from all backgrounds.”

The building was given a complete makeover, with special care taken to restore the historical integrity of the building – originally built as an homage to the 16th U.S. president.

Lincoln Hall is the most frequented academic building on campus, with most of the 44,000 who attend the university annually taking a class there at some time.

Two years of preparation work and two more for the actual construction work displaced thousands of students and employees as the interior of the building was redesigned and classroom, research and office space was expanded.

“The end result is a state-of-the-art facility appropriate for teaching, learning and scholarship for the 21st century,” Watkins said.

Classrooms are now outfitted with new computer-aided projectors, large screens and speaker systems, and designers switched the orientation of some of the larger lecture halls, putting professors closer to students.

The Lincoln Hall project was as much restoration as renovation.

The theater work demanded artisans painstakingly restore original plaster wall reliefs; and the bronze Lincoln bust in Memorial Hall – its nose rubbed raw for good luck by thousands of U. of I. students over the years – was polished, refurbished and readied for another 100 years of rubbing.
Outside, the slate roof, oak trim and terra cotta panels depicting Lincoln’s life were carefully restored.

In addition, the building was mechanically retrofitted to meet LEED environmental standards, and includes “smart” sensors that adjust light and temperature controls automatically as part of an overall “sustainable design.”

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