The transformation of Fritschel Hall is well under way, and our vision for an updated building that can best serve our entire student population—as well as staff and faculty—is coming together. Construction is hard work; there’s no way around it. So, when milestones are reached, it’s time to celebrate!

As of February 17, 2023 the shoring process and removal of walls has been completed at the first floor main entrance of Fritschel. The first floor of Reu Library is the next step to complete before finishing off the Koplitz Auditorium wall shoring and removal. In the case of Fritschel Hall, the end result of the shoring is an open floor plan throughout the main entrance, the Koplitz Auditorium and Reu Library.

The next milestone is the completion of a geothermal upgrade. Geothermal resources have been used for centuries as a method for heating buildings or water using the heat stored in the ground and can also be used to generate electricity. The average lifespan of these complex systems is generally 18-20 years; the system in Fritschel Hall was 23 years old. Given that all the ceilings needed to be replaced to install new LED efficient lighting, it was the perfect time to replace all the 40 year old piping as well.

Due to the extensive demolition that had to be done in order to open up the floorplan and upgrade the geothermal system, the restroom facilities in Fritschel also received an upgrade by way of more water efficient fixtures and plumbing. This update includes the changing of the 2nd floor bathrooms to four gender neutral bathrooms, and the addition of two gender neutral restrooms on the third floor.

It is important at this point to note that the building, originally constructed in 1914, was renovated by way of additions in 1958 and 1982. Evidence of the additions can be seen in the different types of stone that make up the walls. In this way, the building itself tells a story of Wartburg’s beginning and growth throughout the years. These beautifully preserved walls will be visible in several areas throughout the building.

The rare book room was last remodeled in 1982. Forty years later, we have an ever-expanding rare book collection, as well as archives for both Wartburg Seminary and the Region Five Synods. To accommodate this growth and the proper care of these precious materials, it was deemed that the center of the basement was the best place to meet those needs. Extra space as well sophisticated temperature and humidity controls have been added that will keep these precious resources safe.

We want to share several additional updates to the building that are currently in various stages of completion:

  • The addition of various breakout multi-purpose meeting rooms
  • The addition of a classroom on the third floor
  • Classroom updates, including the addition of electrical outlets in the floor, new white boards, updated technology and expanded space to accommodate larger class sizes and facilitate breakout areas
  • Removing the booth in the back of Koplitz Auditorium to create a more open and larger presentation space, as well as the addition of new, wider seating, high top tables in the back, and greater ADA accessibility
  • A larger sacristy with updated facilities and storage space
  • A comprehensive Department of Vocation and Formation office suite, complete with a dedicated department conference room
  • Office space on the first floor for the Academic Dean and Registrar
  • A dedicated conference room in the President’s office
  • High density compact shelving for the library

While many of these updates were necessary to preserve the integrity of the building and its functionality, more importantly, the renovations in Fritschel Hall will support all of our students in their different learning modalities for decades to come. Thank you for your ongoing patience and prayers as this project continues. We can’t wait to unveil the new building this fall, and we are grateful to our excellent partners at Straka Johnson and Conlon for their care with this project.

Here you can see the shoring and how it opens up the main entrance to Fritschel Hall
This is the location of the new Student Services Suite 
This is an example of the beautiful original stone that will remain uncovered.
Here you can see some of the work being done in Reu library.
This is Koplitz Auditorium with all of the seats and the sound booth removed.