Ohio Wesleyan University’s Slocum Hall began its life as a library when it opened in 1898. Now, 124 years later, the building will continue to overflow with information when it reopens as the Admission Welcome Center and Home of the OWU Connection following an $11.25-million, donor-funded renovation.

The university rededicated the building at 75 S. Sandusky St, during a public ceremony this past Friday. The free community event kicked off OWU’s 2022 Homecoming and Family Weekend.

“This is an exciting moment for Ohio Wesleyan,” said President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “Great care went into restoring and renewing this iconic building, and we are grateful to the donors for their generous support.

“Every current and future Ohio Wesleyan student will benefit from this project,” Jones said. “Prospective students and families will visit Slocum Hall to meet with the Admission team, and enrolled students will use the building to plan their OWU Connection experiences, explore career and graduate school opportunities, and shape successful futures.”

Home of the OWU Connection

All of the offices in Slocum Hall will be geared toward helping Ohio Wesleyan students find their academic passions and then participate in the university’s signature program, the OWU Connection.
Part of the general education curriculum, the OWU Connection helps all students to think big (understand complex issues from multiple academic disciplines), do good (volunteer to help others), go global (gain international perspective), and get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning).

The first floor of the three-story building will feature the Office of Admission; the second floor will include the Career Connection office and the Slocum Reading Room, a student study space highlighted by a Romanesque arcade with breathtaking views of the building’s 70-foot-by-20-foot leaded glass ceiling; and the third floor will include additional Admission offices as well as offices for the OWU Connection, Community Service Learning, Financial Aid, and International and Off-Campus Programs. The top floor also will feature lounges for Honors and Scholars and for the OWU Connection.

A Thoughtful Renovation

Before the restoration began, architects researched Slocum Hall and discovered it originally had a stenciled pattern on the Reading Room ceiling. They replicated the stencils by hand using enlarged historic photographs. They also recreated the painted medallions that originally aligned with the Reading Room’s columns and replicated many of its original light fixtures.

All but two of the building’s original windows were restored, with new interior storm windows installed to make them as energy efficient as replacement windows. In addition, the building’s five fireplaces were restored along with the original ceramic tile in the building’s first- and second-floor landing spaces.

As well as preserving historic details, the architects also added new items and amenities to make Slocum Hall more modern and functional. This includes installing air-conditioning, an elevator, an exterior accessibility ramp, and a sustainable “green” cork floor in the Reading Room to improve acoustics.

The renovated building also will feature 17 wood-and-glass cabinets along the east wall of the Reading Room that mimic the original library cabinets and feature artifacts that tell the story of Ohio Wesleyan’s 180-year history.

Significant Support

The 29,076-square-foot renovation was fully funded by donor gifts including a $10 million contribution from an anonymous alumni couple. Their contribution, announced in 2019, is the largest single outright gift in Ohio Wesleyan history.

Additional gifts supporting Slocum Hall’s renovation and reinvention include $1 million from OWU Trustees John F. Milligan, Ph.D., and Kathryn Bradford Milligan, both members of the Class of 1983, and $500,000 from Robert W. Gillespie and Ann L. Wible Gillespie, who graduated from the university in 1966 and 1967, respectively.

Schooley Caldwell served as the project architect, Setterlin Building Co. as the general contractor, and Hill International Inc. as the owner’s representative. All are based in Columbus, Ohio.

A Storied History

Slocum Hall is named in recognition of its original donor, Charles Elihu Slocum, M.D., of Defiance, Ohio. Before the building was designed and constructed in the late 1890s, Dr. Slocum and then-Ohio Wesleyan President James W. Bashford, Ph.D., visited more than 40 college libraries in the United States and Canada to help design the innovative white Bedford limestone structure.

It served as the campus library until 1966 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Learn more about Slocum Hall and view photographs taken throughout the renovation at owu.edu/slocumhall. Learn more about the OWU Connection at owu.edu/connection, and more about supporting the university at owu.edu/give.

Ohio Wesleyan University rededicated Slocum Hall on October 7 following a 14-month donor-funded renovation that is transforming the 124-year-old building into the new Home of the OWU Connection. (Photo by Jenny Batchelder)

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