Friday, May 12, 2006

Group fights to save law school's Trickett Hall

Group fights to save law school's Trickett Hall
Friday, May 12, 2006
Of Our Carlisle Bureau

CARLISLE - Preservationists yesterday asked Gov. Ed Rendell to persuade Penn State University to build a facility for The Dickinson School of Law that incorporates Trickett Hall.

They said plans to raze the 88-year-old building snub state and federal preservation goals.

More than 2,500 petition signers appear to agree.

Rendell was in Philadelphia yesterday and hadn't seen the Save Trickett Hall group's letter, petition and drawing of a proposed new facility, a spokeswoman for the governor said.

The sleek, steel structure in preliminary drawings clashes with the neighborhood, strays from state preservation goals and ignores Carlisle's White House designation as a Preserve America town, the group contends.

"We are passionate about our historic buildings," the preservationists stated in the letter to Rendell. Trickett "is the structure that is intimately connected with the tradition of Pennsylvania's oldest law school. It is part of the historic and architectural fabric of Carlisle. Its demolition would be an enormous loss to many."

Last night, the Carlisle Borough Council voted to ask Penn State to address concerns about Trickett.

"I honestly can't imagine anything else on that corner," said Linda Cecconello, council vice president.

Yet, some fear a fight to protect Trickett could bring a Penn State backlash, prompting the university to pull out of Carlisle.

Penn State President Graham Spanier said last night the university has and will continue to consider community input on a facility. And protests, although coming on the heels of a protracted struggle with Carlisle, won't shake the university's commitment to the town.

"This has indeed been a frustrating process, but our final decision will seek to be in the best interests of the law school, the university and the community," he said.

Penn State merged with the law school in 2000. A 2003 bid to move Dickinson to State College drew public fury. Now a sister school will be built there and the Carlisle school will be upgraded.

Save Trickett members said they feel duped as plans showed Trickett would be preserved. Bringing it down, "is a radical reversal ... without proper communication to the community," they said.

Their effort is gaining momentum. More than 2,500 have signed a petition and thousands have visited the Web site.

Dickinson College, which isn't affiliated with the law school, hasn't denounced Penn State's plan, but it posted Save Trickett petition information on its Web site until yesterday.

New facility plans would require borough approval, but a permit to raze Trickett would come from the state Labor and Industry office. Penn State hadn't sought a permit as of yesterday.

Save Trickett members hope there's still time to re-work the project.

They said the planned contemporary building would contradict a Pennsylvania Keystone Principles goal to rehabilitate historic buildings and neighborhoods.

And, they said, it would sully Carlisle's standing with Media and Montgomery County as the state's only Preserve America communities. Congress will spend up to $5 million this year on the program's preservation efforts.

Joe Elias contributed to this report. ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or

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