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VU’s Heritage Hall reborn

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



VALPARAISO — A Valparaiso University building that is now housing the School of Law’s Lawyering Skills Center will serve as a bridge to both the university’s past and its future.

More than 100 people, including community members, law school faculty and a large contingent of building benefactor Donna Draper Welter’s family, gathered Saturday afternoon for the rededication of Heritage Hall.

Heritage Hall is located at 510 Freeman St., across from Wesemann Hall, which will remain as the main building for the law school.

The building, built in 1875, was named for Richard Heritage, head of the university’s music department in the late 1800s. It is the last building from the original 1859 campus.

Reconstruction, with reuse of brick from the old building’s exterior being used in indoor accent walls, began two years ago. The façade is reminiscent of the original structure, and interior benches were made from structural timbers from the original building.

The building, said law school dean Jay Conison, looks old on the outside, but “from the inside, it is stunningly new.”

Heritage Hall, which over time has served as a men’s dormitory, barracks during World War I, a machinery classroom and a library, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The building, Conison said, has been continuously renewed for 136 years. “We have renewed this building for another 100 years,” he said.

The redevelopment of Heritage Hall represents a major step in the university’s vision, VU president Mark Heckler said. The building tells the history of the university and reconnects with that history.

“You will see in one place our oldest tradition and newest technology and how they come together in the most wonderful way,” he said.

After the rededication, visitors crowded into the newly reconstructed building, which includes historical exhibits on the building and the old campus, among other topics.

Heritage Hall houses the Lawyering Skills Center, which provides an environment similar to a law firm for the school’s students, and the law school’s legal clinic, which provides free legal services to low-income clients.



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