A new “lease” on life: DSU’s Pulver Hall undergoes renovations

A new “lease” on life: DSU’s Pulver Hall undergoes renovations

What usually happens to buildings that fall out of use? One possibility is that they are abandoned, decay, or become condemned. Another is that they are remodeled and given a new life. One such building at Dickinson State University (DSU) is getting a second chance at bringing life and purpose to the campus and community, and that building is Pulver Hall. This building is located northwest of Delong Hall on the University’s main campus. Before the Vietnam War, Pulver Hall’s main purpose was to be a six-floor residence hall and was considered the “twin” to Delong Hall. However, when the war ended and college enrollments diminished across the United States, it was no longer needed for use as a residence hall.

Due to a growing demand for office space in the Dickinson area, it was converted to rental space for several different entities that included the Badlands Human Services Center and Roosevelt-Custer Regional Council. Though Pulver Hall is located within the boundaries of DSU’s campus, the University was technically only a landlord for the Hall until recent legislative funding provided the University an opportunity to reclaim and repurpose the campus building to benefit not only the DSU campus community but also the Dickinson community as a whole.

After being given $4 million from the North Dakota Legislature to bring Pulver Hall back into the campus fold, the University has begun the process of renovating the space. The first and main reason that Pulver Hall is being given a makeover is to provide the University’s Theodore Roosevelt Center (TRC) a permanent place to call home. The TRC is dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s 26th president and has created a digital index of Roosevelt-related documents. Renovating Pulver Hall will not only provide the TRC with a physical location to conduct this important work, but it will also provide them with meeting and exhibit space, as well as a large research library.

The first floor will be decorated to reflect the historical period in which Roosevelt lived and will be based on rooms in his own past residence. The public will be able to enjoy Roosevelt-related artifacts in the exhibit space on the first floor and the University hopes that it will be a “must-see” space for those who are visiting the area. This exhibit space will help to give guests a glimpse into the life of Theodore Roosevelt and his connection to and love of western North Dakota. After all, DSU is an academic institution, so any opportunity to teach not only students but also visitors about the former president is a welcomed one.

The second floor will include offices for TRC staff and the fourth floor will feature individual offices for students and visiting Theodore Roosevelt scholars, as well as a small apartment that can be used to house scholars or speakers visiting the DSU campus.

The second reason for the renovation is to provide classroom space and a conference room for the University. In addition to being used for DSU classes and meetings, the third floor space will also have a recording and broadcasting studio that students, faculty, and staff can use to produce podcasts, record lectures, and to appear on internet and television shows. “The recording studio will be a big boon to our students, faculty, and staff, who can use it to produce programming that, we hope, will be widely distributed,” said DSU President Steve Easton.

The final reason for the renovation highlights the original purpose of Pulver Hall as an on-campus residence hall. This part of the renovation will occupy the top two floors and will provide premium residence hall rooms for the University’s Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program scholars. “It will definitely be a benefit for students,” said Chelsea Clark of JLG Architects in Fargo, North Dakota. This residence hall will be designed similar to apartment-style living. Each room will house one student with a shared central living space and kitchen area. “It’s always great to have new residence hall space for our students,” said President Easton. “We expect the Pulver Hall residences to be in high demand, as it will be great living space for our students.”

When the renovations to Pulver Hall are complete, it will be not only a great benefit to the DSU campus community but also the Dickinson community as a whole. “We are excited to bring Pulver Hall ‘back’ into our campus community,” shared President Easton. “There will be benefits for students, staff, faculty, and community members!” The University hopes to have the renovations to Pulver Hall finished by June 2021.