Photo Series: Wittich Hall Renovation

View+from+the+newly+renovated+steps+of+Wittich+Hall.

Photo taken by Sara Hafften.

View from the newly renovated steps of Wittich Hall.

Sara Hafften, Photojournalist

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Interim Dean of the College of Business Administration (CBA) Dr. Taggert J. Brooks, who was previously the professor of Economics, Chair of the Economics Department, and Chair of the Finance Department describes his enthusiasm toward the newly renovated Wittich Hall.

According to the Wittich Hall Renovation Preservation Plan, “[In 1909,] The La Crosse State Normal School emerged as a late-comer in Wisconsin’s history of “normal schools,” or teacher training and preparation schools.” The physical education program at La Crosse was the first state-funded program of its kind in the nation. To house this program, the Physical Education Building was built. In 1926, under Physical Education Director Walter Wittich, a four-year physical education program was introduced, and by 1931, a student could receive a physical education degree with an academic minor.

After Walter Wittich’s death in 1953, the college renamed the building to Wittich Hall, commemorating his thirty-seven years of service to the physical education programWittich Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Today, instead of housing a gym, track, or pool, Wittich is the center for the College of Business Administration. 

Before the two-year renovation of Wittich Hall that began in 2018, the CBA and Small Business Development Center were located in Wimberley Hall. Five out of the six offices within the college were spread out on the third and fourth floors. According to Brooks, some goals for the renovation of Wittich Hall were to give the CBA a “unique space to have their own identity”, a space for the students to gather, and much needed offices for faculty and staff – all while blending new features while also honoring historical aspects of the building.  

Due to its registration with the National Register of Historical Places, the façade of the building could not be altered but was instead taken back to its historical origin. All of the wood found around the building is repurposed from the old track. The old gymnasium floor can be found incorporated with office spaces and is a neat aspect that sets the building apart. On the second floor by the management department, an installation will be added, dedicated to Walter Wittich, and will be a variation of a “museum” where students can learn about the past of the building.  

When asked about new features of the building for students, Brooks said that “While there are not classrooms in the traditional sense, there are lots of learning spaces for students. There is the Kaplan Finance Lab for example. As you walk into the main entrance from the Centennial sidethe first thing you see is a stock market ticker. In that room is where students who are in investment classes might be able to do stock market research – that’s an important space on campus that didn’t exist before. We have a collaborative learning computer space in the lower level where students can share their screen and work together alongside professors. Brooks also is looking forward to students presenting in the multiple spaces within the building and holding receptions in the new courtyard outside Wittich Hall. 

Although the majority of the renovation is completed, there is still some construction underway. Due to COVID-19 complications, the production of glass slowed. This caused delays with the upstairs walkway as it is not yet complete. Within the next month, it should be finalized 

Hopefully, the newly renovated Wittich Hall will be a space for the CBA to fulfill its mission to “foster academic excellence, career success and community engagement through enriching, interactive experiences”.  

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