Illuminating success

Renovations help preserve ‘Harry Potter Room’

Kansas State University students are enjoying a more comfortable study experience this year in Hale Library’s Great Room after a complete replacement of the large, arched windows.

The original windows from 1927 offered very little protection against outside elements. A special coating on the new windows enhances durability and protection against UV rays. That protection is especially valuable since Friends of the K-State Libraries just invested $150,000 to restore historic murals lining the walls.

“If it snowed and there was a stiff wind coming out of the north, you could get snowflakes in that room,” said Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State Libraries. “Aesthetically and structurally, the windows were in pretty bad shape. It affected comfort levels in that room and made it not a great place to study.”

The popular space is affectionately nicknamed “The Harry Potter Room” by students who recognize structural similarities from the classic J.K. Rowling novel. Although quaint, the windows proved problematic over the years, according to Goetsch. The zinc framing required a comprehensive replacement as opposed to replacing individual panes. However, the comprehensive approach cost around $325,000 and Goetsch was unsure how to fund such a large project.

During a tour of Hale Library, K-State alumnus Mark Chapman recognized the historic value of the Great Room and expressed interest in the project. He agreed to fund the entire replacement and the contract was awarded to Willet Hauser Architectural Glass Company, based in Minnesota. Chapman took an active role during the design phase of the new windows, which now feature a thin border of purple stained glass.

“Confession time – in my undergraduate years at K-State, I do not remember the library and I certainly don’t remember the Great Room, but hopefully my paying for this project will atone for that sin,” Chapman joked at the windows dedication ceremony.

“We have preserved the past and secured its future for today’s and tomorrow’s scholars,” he added.

Goetsch expressed her gratitude for Chapman’s generosity toward a much-needed maintenance project that was long delayed and seemingly impossible.

“I never imagined there would be a donor who would see the need in a holistic way and just want to take care of it all at once,” she said. “It’s really miraculous to me.”

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