Monday, May 08, 2006

No Respect for Trickett Hall

Historic value sparse, Spanier says

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Of Our Carlisle Bureau

CARLISLE - Penn State University President Graham Spanier said that the effort to preserve Trickett Hall is misdirected and that the building has only limited historic significance.

He spelled it out in a rebuttal letter to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which asked Spanier to reconsider demolishing the 88-year-old home of The Dickinson School of Law.

"In truth, Trickett Hall has meaning for law school graduates and Carlisle residents precisely because it serves as the current home of The Dickinson School of Law, not because of its architectural or historic significance apart from the law school," Spanier wrote.

Spanier did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

But members of local historic preservation groups, who have formed the Save Trickett Hall committee, met last night and said Spanier is selling the building short.

"It's a treasured historic landmark in Carlisle ... a symbol of The Dickinson School of Law, the first law school in Pennsylvania," said Wendy Pires, who lives on South College Street near Trickett.

"A lot of people think this building is in bad shape. We have to put them straight," said Steven Smith, who appealed to the National Trust on behalf of the group.

Penn State has said it would cost more to renovate than tear down Trickett and build anew.

The wrecking ball, scheduled for this summer, will make way for a $50 million facility to open in 2008.

Donations of $15 million will help fund the project. Law school officials said up to $10 million of gifts will come from one donor who has insisted on a new building.

The donor likely will have his or her way, state officials learned earlier this week.

Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland, said she and Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, met Monday with law school Dean Philip McConnaughay.

"We both expressed our feelings about trying to have some semblance of Trickett remain," Vance said. "Renovating it is probably not feasible. I think the realism of it is, the people who are putting up the money think [the proposed replacement] is beautiful."

Carlisle fought off Penn State's 2003 proposal to move Dickinson to State College. Last year, Penn State promised to expand Trickett and build a second law campus in State College.

Outrage that Save Trickett members feel at losing the structure is apparently intensified by what they said is a general community reluctance to stand up to Penn State for fear the university will move the law school to State College.

They also said that many people are unaware that the proposed replacement is a startling contrast to Trickett and to the homes that surround it.

A letter from Adrian Fine, director of the National Trust's Northeast field office, asked Penn State to "encourage discussion about exploring options that might allow for the retention and integration of this important landmark into the new facility."

Jim Flower, a law school alumni and member of Save Trickett who lives near the school, said he wants discussions to start quickly.

"Once Trickett Hall is torn down, Dickinson Law will be gone, and all that will be left will be Penn State," he said.


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