The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Chase Hall Reopens with Renovations

Canal 5 Studios/Courtesy Photo
An artist’s rendering from 2022 shows the newly-renovated Chase Hall.

Once the home to a billiard room, barber shop, bowling alley, the men’s union and a post office, Chase Hall has operated as a gathering place for students for years. Built in 1917, the building has undergone five renovations in its 105 year history. 

The latest renovation will be completed in August 2023 and Chase Hall will open to the Bates community on Aug. 8. The renovation lasted 15 months, starting in April of 2022. The principal purpose of the renovations were to improve accessibility and visibility within the building according to Vice President for Finance Administration and Treasurer Geoffrey Swift.

The renovation was made because there were a number of issues previously that made Chase Hall difficult to navigate for students, said Swift.

“If you tried to navigate the building, there were some weird dynamics. If you do a Google Maps view, you’ll see it’s like six different buildings mashed together. Which is why it’s three stories, but it [had] seven levels,” Swift said.

Swift is referring to the mini staircases, just two or three steps, scattered throughout Chase that made it inaccessible to wheelchairs. In addition, Swift mentioned part of the exterior had begun to rot which was unknown until they began renovation. 

“Part of the renovation gave us the opportunity to strengthen what was in the building and address some problems we didn’t know we had. So, we’re better off than it was before,” Swift said.

Among the major changes to the building during the construction, the College Ave entrance was lowered and ramps and snow melt technology were added to increase the accessibility of the building. The construction also increased the number of bathrooms, adding single stall bathrooms as well to the building.

“You’ll notice that the actual toilets have doors,” Senior Project Manager Paul Farnsworth said. “And the reason for that is right now there’s a men’s and a women’s [bathrooms]. In the future, that wall you see there can get taken out, and it just becomes one unisex bathroom.”

Current Maine law requires colleges to offer bathrooms separated by sex and accessible only by separate entrances. However, Farnsworth expects this to change in the near future which would allow Bates to take down the dividing wall, creating unisex bathrooms. 

According to Swift, the first floor will act as a conglomeration of student service offices like Residential Life, Purposeful Work, and the Office of Intercultural Education.

“We’re basically making a student services center where all of [Residential] Life, Campus Conduct, Purposeful Work, all that group kind of comes into one,” Swift said. “And the OIE was of course a preexisting resident.”

According to Farnsworth, renovators hoped that these changes would fill the building with students throughout the day and night.  

“We wanted to get life in the building all the time. So, rather than just being a daytime or nighttime use, we have occupants that are here for most of the day, which makes it a lot more exciting building to be in,” Farnsworth said.

This was also achieved by the second floor being converted into a club meeting space and storage area for club materials. There will also be interview and study rooms available with key card access. The second floor is also where the Student office will be located, which has not been renovated besides a new coat of paint on the walls.

Another major change to Chase is the addition of air conditioning throughout most of the building. Additionally, the former loading dock outside the Outing Club headquarters has been converted into be an outdoor deck with tables and chairs.  

Neither the Den nor the OIE had any major changes made given their recent renovations. Additionally, the construction team worked to uncover and preserve original brick, support beams and arches, and maintain the architectural style of the original building. 

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About the Contributor
Ella Beiser, Editor-in-Chief
Ella is a Junior from Chicago double majoring in Politics and Hispanic Studies. In her free time, Ella enjoys hosting a WRBC radio show, working in the greenhouse and biking around Lewiston. She is the Editor in Chief of The Student and previously served as an Assistant News Editor and Assistant Features Editor for The Student. She freelances for her local newspaper the South Side Weekly, has been published in the Maine Monitor and Vocalo Radio and in summer 2023 she was a reporting intern for the Lewiston Sun Journal.

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