Valparaiso University's Heritage Hall rebuilt, rededicated

2011-04-03T00:00:00Z Valparaiso University's Heritage Hall rebuilt, rededicatedBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

VALPARAISO | More than 300 people, including staff and faculty of Valparaiso University, celebrated the rededication of Heritage Hall on Saturday.

The ceremony heralded the finished result of a $7 million reconstruction process began in 2009 with removal of the original brick building, which was erected in 1875, just two years after VU was purchased and founded as a Lutheran university.

The new reimagined Heritage Hall recreates the first structure, with preserving a historical exterior look contrasted by the latest in design and technology for the interior.

"My father, uncle and my husband's father all studied law at VU, which is why this building has such a special meaning for me," explained Donna Draper Welter, who joined VU President Mark Heckler and VU School of Law Dean Jay Conison for the ribbon cutting honors. 

Welter, of Valparaiso, is the widow of William J. Welter. William Welter operated Cressmoor Country Club in Hobart, owned car dealerships, sold real estate and was president of the First National Bank of Valparaiso.

The couple were two of the primary benefactors for supporting the building project.

The new building will house the Law Clinic, along with the Lawyering Skills Center for the VU School of Law.

"The Lawyering Skills Center will provide a home for our clinics -- for our teaching law firms. It is also a link to the history and historical ideals of this university," Conison said.

"This building is both old and stunningly new."

Heritage Hall was originally named Flint Hall after the contractor who built it, but was later renamed after Richard Aaron Heritage, head of the music department from 1878 to 1894.

The newly dedicated structure had been built anew after the original rehab plans for the historic building had to be abandoned since it was not possible to renovate the existing unsound structure.

Some elements of the original structure and original artwork depicting the building and old campus highlights are included in the new Heritage Hall.

The facade design recalls the original roof, window and door styles, and decorative brick detailing. Interior benches are made from original structural timbers.

Artifacts and exhibits highlight the history of Heritage Hall and old campus. Exhibits celebrate the Draper and Welter family legacies, and the story of Heritage Hall and its namesake.

A new plaza connects Heritage Hall with Wesemann Hall and is the home for the historic Founders' Rock monument -- moved to give it a more prominent focal point.

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