Renovations Across Campus Bring New Life to PUC

By Joli Weber on May 17, 2024

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Photo by Dr. Rachelle Davis

Renovations to Paulin Recital Hall, West Hall and the Hanson Pool undertaken at the beginning of the calendar year are nearing completion. Funded by anonymous donations and gifts from alumni, these projects improved campus facilities that are widely used by students, faculty and community members alike.

Paulin Recital Hall

Built in 1967, Paulin Hall has served as the venue for many concerts, plays, lectures, Homecoming weekends, PUC Prep senior nights and PUC Elementary end-of-semester concerts. The last renovation — which involved replacing the ’60s-era blue carpet — occurred in the ’90s. Faculty and staff members of the music department felt it was time for another update, replacing worn seating and embracing advancements in performing arts technology.

PUC alumnus Quentin White donated to PUC’s music department for the renovations and upgrades after selling his share in the Angwin Community Ambulance Project. A former music major, White supported the remodel of the recital hall to extend its reach as a gathering place beyond PUC.

“I would love to see us hopefully become another venue for the broader community,” echoed Rachelle Davis, chair of the music department. “I’m hoping [the recital hall] will become a place that is inviting to the campus and not just for music majors.”

Phase one included technology-based aspects of the remodel. A new lighting system replaced most of the interior lights and includes a light bar that can be seen above the stage. Visitors will also enjoy a new audio system with new microphones, a 32-channel sound board, and heavy-bass speakers. Two new cameras were installed, and the department expects to add a third at the beginning of the upcoming fall quarter.

The music department’s “Shrek the Musical,” playing Memorial Day weekend, will be the first PUC-led performance to utilize the improved sound system.

“The remodel is a really good endeavor because it is allowing people to continue to enjoy art, theater and music in an updated space,” said music major Mika Palitang. “The new lights and sound system will definitely be useful for the musical.”

Phase two will begin in early August. Funding for phase two has come from myriad sources, including a concert and silent auction held at the Angwin Airport in October 2023. The music department is also offering the opportunity to name and personalize seats in the new theater for donations of $250 per chair.

West Hall

Originally a dance hall and bowling alley for the Angwin Resort, West Hall was converted into a "normal school" for both elementary and high school students as well as teachers in training. After the construction of the PUC Prep and PUC Elementary buildings, West Hall housed PUC’s education and psychology departments, and today it continues to host future educators within its walls.

Faculty of the education department wanted to repair water damage and rotting walls in the historic building, which is approaching its 100th birthday. A million-dollar gift from the Ricchiuti family enabled the department to begin planning a renovation. The Facilities team helped prepare the building in late March by temporarily relocating department functions, fixing the electricity and lighting, and installing new plumbing.

Over spring break, three crews helped repaint the interior and exterior of the building, install new windows and place new carpet. One addition was that of a reception window in the main entry hall, which will ensure security of the building and important accreditation documents inside.

"The new lounge space in Room 213 will be primarily used for technology, projects and student space," said Jean Buller, chair of the education department. "Students have tried to use that room as a study hall space, but it was not pleasurable for studying and hanging out in. It’s an old building!”

"In the past, [West Hall] was run down — really dirty on the outside — but now, it’s more exciting and nicer than the surrounding buildings," stated liberal studies major Lilyana Driver. "I’m excited for the new lounge study space and technology that will be available for us."

Buller also applied for a grant from the Archie Tonge Education Fund to implement technological upgrades across the building. The grant supported the purchase of new furniture, two new projectors, sound equipment, recording equipment, STEM educational materials, a greenscreen, two new smartboards, laptops, iPads and headphones.

These items are set to arrive before the end of the school year, and will be available for student and classroom use beginning in the fall of 2024.

Hanson Pool

Work began on the Hanson Pool renovations during winter quarter. The refurbishments were necessary to comply with Napa County building codes and California’s Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, designed to prevent entrapment hazards in public pool drainage systems. Around two-thirds of the funds to restore the pool were reallocated from an extraneous insurance fund, with the remaining amount donated by the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.

At the beginning of April, contractors opened 36-inch-wide access points around 133 feet of cracks in the foundation of the concrete bowl of the pool. One of the primary pumps also needed to be replaced. The next steps will entail drilling in dowels, filling in cracks with epoxy resin and overlapping rebar, then pouring concrete and plastering it to finish the job.

"The team is working really hard to get this thing done," noted Dr. Robert Paulson, professor of physical science. "They are very efficient about it, and I am impressed with the progress they have made. I think this is going to look great when it is all done, but we’ve just got to give [them] time to get it done."

Director of Facilities Management Dale Withers expects the pool renovation to be completed by June 2024.

Overall, these three projects are just the beginning of a new chapter for this historic campus.

"The two messages of these remodels are, one, [President] Trecartin is big on spending donations quickly to show the donor what a difference it made, and two, most of these projects we are focused on really are donor driven,” said project manager Sam Heier. “Hopefully, showing donors that what they have given us made a tremendous difference will motivate other donors to do the same."