Northeastern State University enters final phase of Seminary Hall restoration

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/13/2020 09:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Northeastern State University’s Seminary Hall is now in its final phase of restoration, NSU officials say. It is expected to be finished in the spring. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Seminary Hall has long been a center for education – from its earliest days as the Cherokee National Female Seminary in 1851 to its present-day status as the oldest structure on the Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Northeastern State University press release, the final phase of NSU’s Seminary Hall restoration project is hard to miss with fencing around the historic building and construction crews at work.

The restoration stems from a partnership between NSU and the Cherokee Nation, which donated $4 million to ensure the symbol of education will be preserved for generations to come. 

“When our Cherokee leaders were first removed to this part of the country, they made a moral decision to invest in the future of our people through education,” former Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Despite the trauma of removal and starting over, the tribe allocated half of its overall budget to erect the seminary school and fund its mission. And now, with this gift, we honor our Cherokee ancestors by making an investment for the generations to follow.”  

Seminary Hall has long been a center for education – from its earliest days as the Cherokee National Female Seminary in 1851 to its present-day status as the oldest structure on the NSU Tahlequah campus. 

“The restoration of Seminary Hall ensures that students can appreciate it as a symbol of courage, hope and determination for the next 130 years and beyond,” NSU President Steve Turner said. “Our thanks again to former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the Cherokee people for their generosity and continued commitment to higher education.” 

The partnership between the CN and NSU continues to provide opportunities for generations to gather and exchange knowledge, the release states.

“Seminary Hall opened on May 7, 1889, and has since stood for education and prosperity. Today, it continues to represent the commitment of the Cherokee Nation and its citizens have for education and growth. The knowledge shared and relationships forged by gathering in Seminary Hall over the last 130 years must continue for generations,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The Cherokee Nation is proud to ensure, along with NSU, that our children will get to continue the legacy of education and do so in a building that will be restored to its original form.” 

The initial phase of the restoration project consisted of investigating the extent of damage throughout the years and determining the repairs needed to restore its historical accuracy. 

“Restoring a 130-year-old historic heritage building is challenging and rewarding,” Jon Asbill, NSU assistant vice president of facilities management & new construction, said. “It takes research and extreme attention to detail. The wood and brick materials required to restore the building must be sourced from salvaged materials from the correct time period. Building details must be meticulously designed and constructed to match the methods used in the 1880s.”
 
The final phase is comprised of exterior work – repairing the roofline and clock tower, installing new windows, rebuilding brick to its original state and correcting the dormers. In addition to the restoration, the third floor will be modified to provide a museum space as part of the agreement with the CN. 

The project is expected to be completed in the spring.

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