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Loyola at a Glance

Thomas Hall opens doors to the community

September 30, 2011

Loyola University New Orleans opened the historic doors of Thomas Hall to the university community and the public last Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the building’s year-and-a-half renovation.

The university held a blessing ceremony Tuesday afternoon and dedicated the new Whitney Bank Presentation Room, the building’s former chapel which was renamed in honor of the bank which donated $500,000 to the project. Students, faculty, staff and members of the Jesuit community were invited to the afternoon event, which was marked by comments from Loyola President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D., Whitney Bank President Joseph Exnicios, Loyola Enrollment Management Vice President Sal Liberto, and Rector of the Jesuit community the Rev. Peter Rogers, S.J. The event also held a special surprise for Wildes, whose birthday was celebrated with a cake presentation by Loyola’s mascot, Havoc.

Later that day, Loyola alumni, neighbors of the university and other members of the community were treated to an evening open house featuring comments from Liberto and Loyola’s President Emeritus the Rev. James Carter, S.J., Ph.D. Both events included receptions with music and tours of the building led by student volunteers.

Thomas Hall, one of the university’s first buildings, originally served as a residence and chapel for Jesuits of the New Orleans Province until 2005. Built in 1911, the year before Loyola University received its charter, Thomas Hall is named for Louise C. Thomas who funded the construction in memory of her late husband Stanley O. Thomas, a cotton broker. The historic building’s $14.5 million renovation, whose redesign was led by Mathes Brierre Architects of New Orleans, repurposes it as a resource and visitor center for students and prospective students. The building now offers students a one-stop-shop administrative hub, housing the Offices of Admissions, Student Records, the Bursar, Financial Aid and Student Finance.

According to Mathes Brierre, the group which also designed Loyola’s library, the project preserved several historical qualities of Thomas Hall including its stained and leaded glass windows, wood lattice windows, a wooden staircase, the original doors to the front of the building, and the exterior masonry which features ornamental carved pre-cast books, flora and Tudor gothic crenellation. The chapel’s original marble floors and painted ceilings were uncovered and restored during the renovation. That space is now the Whitney Presentation Room, thanks to a generous $500,000 gift by Whitney Bank. The Whitney Presentation Room will serve as a gathering space and reception area for prospective Loyola families, but will also be available for other university functions.

In order to meet the building’s new programmatic needs, a discreet 5,100 square foot addition was constructed on the eastern side of the building, but the design respects the original façade by exposing the historic wall within an open multi-floor atrium. In keeping with the university’s efforts toward environmental stewardship, the building will seek LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. As a result, energy, air quality and water efficient design was paramount in all decisions related to the renovation project.

For more information, please contact Meredith Hartley in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at 504-722-6078 or mhartley@loyno.edu.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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