Retired Terre Haute business owner Don Scott fondly remembers the former federal building downtown, as he routinely visited the site’s postal boxes to collect his mail.
On a recent trip to the building, he could see London’s time on a wall clock hanging in the trading room that was formerly the federal building’s loading dock – until a multiyear renovation project gave the building new life.
Scott joined Indiana State faculty, staff and students on Friday to dedicate Federal Hall, one of the newest additions to ISU’s campus. The historic downtown building underwent a more than $20 million transformation to become the new home for the Scott College of Business. Federal Hall first opened in August to serve Indiana State students at the start of the fall semester.
“The completed renovation is beyond my original expectations,” said Scott, who is the namesake of the Scott College of Business and who provided a significant gift to help make the Federal Hall renovations possible. “I thought it was going to be amazing when this all started, but it has turned out even better than what I expected.”
The building, which was originally constructed in 1935, features many traditional art deco elements of the era. Schmidt Associates, the architect on the project, worked to preserve and restore many of those trademarks, from the judge’s library and the elaborate finishes on the elevator doors to the former federal courtroom.
“The level of finishes in this building is extraordinary,” said Bryan Duncan, ISU director of capital planning and improvement who worked on the project. “The marble and limestone finishes throughout the building are probably the main feature that comes out in noticing the building.”
The Scott College moved to the site after spending more than two decades housed in one of the Statesman Towers. While the former location was intended to be temporary, Federal Hall was renovated to include spaces for many of the college’s majors and centers that provide student programming.
“Our previous location was a residence hall,” said Bruce McLaren, associate dean of the Scott College who worked with Schmidt Associates on the renovation plans. “The former site never was a very good building for classes. Federal Hall was designed for current thinking about how students learn and interact, and it’s not just in the classrooms. There are so many spaces in our building where students and staff can interact. ”
The Minas Center for Investment and Financial Education was part of a new wing to the building to replace the loading dock. Now, Federal Hall’s technology corridor greets people entering the building north from near Wabash Avenue.
“The building is cleverly designed so that the technology supports innovation, and I think that’s the way that it has to be,” said Brien N. Smith, dean of the Scott College. “One of my challenges will be inviting the campus and our faculty to use these facilities to be innovative.”
Federal Hall also helps shift the layout of the ISU campus. The business school was formerly located on the northeast corner of campus before moving into Indiana State’s first academic building south of Cherry Street. The college joins the nearby Barnes and Noble/ISU College Bookstore/ISU Foundation Building as campus locations that are one street over from the heart of downtown on Wabash Avenue.
“I like being right on the border with the downtown businesses because we do a lot of class projects with companies and businesses there,” McLaren said. “The downtown is our learning laboratory, and we feel that this is now part of that context.”
The dedication Friday commemorated the addition to ISU’s campus and to downtown Terre Haute. More than 1,150 students, faculty and staff from the Scott College now are located just north of the heart of the city’s downtown.
The move also has benefited the multi-modal transportation center, which is across the street from Federal Hall. More than 500 parking permits at ISU have been sold for the site, and the university cut off sales to retain space for public use.
City residents and downtown business owners will continue to use Federal Hall. New postal boxes are currently in use, and the self-serve postal kiosk that was available in the federal building is still located on the first floor.
“This is a great save of a historic building for our community and a wonderful venue for the Scott College of Business,” university President Dan Bradley said. “The nature of the building will create a lot more interaction between students, faculty and staff. It should also address our strategic goal of serving as a catalyst for downtown revitalization by placing more than 1,000 additional consumers in the downtown business district.”
Federal Hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, became available after the federal court moved into a new building. Indiana State worked with several government offices before the building was ultimately transferred to the university.
“This is a beautiful building,” McLaren said. “We had a chance to save it, and so we were able to preserve the historic parts of the building, as well as build a 21st century learning environment for our business students that they really needed to have.”
Austin Arceo is the assistant director of media relations.