Students enjoying refurbished former Central Hall

Lindsey Reed

After learning that she’d have to move out of Poland Hall at the end of last semester, Christen Francis, a freshman from Brentwood, Tenn., was afraid it would be an inconvenience.

“I was glad to be moving into a new place, but I thought it would be a pain,” she said. “It was well worth it though.”

New furniture, new lighting, new floors and improved bathroom areas are just a few of the changes that residents moving into Minton Hall from Poland are finding.

“It feels like a hotel – the lobby is much nicer,” Francis said.

Poland is currently being renovated.

Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life, said the $3.5 million renovation project has gone smoothly and without any major changes or problems.

Kuster estimated that the project will be completed on or under budget, depending on the last bills for the work.

The lobby area was expanded to add space for social activities, he said. The original design of the building left little space for a multi-purpose room.

The first floor has a renovated study room, vending machine room and a guest bathroom.

New phone lines were also put in the dorm.

Minton residents have eight electrical outlets, as opposed to three in Poland.

Christina Johnson, Minton assistant hall director, said one of the first things people notice when entering the building is how bright the lighting is in the lobby.

“Poland is a lot darker and the brightness (in Minton) makes it seem bigger,” she said. “It’s a nice change because it’s a newly renovated building and a new location.”

Johnson said the only complaint she has heard is about the lack of parking near the dorm.

About 300 beds are filled, Johnson said. The dorm can house about 388 students.

More students are expected to move in later this month as room change request forms are processed, she said.

Students living in Poland were able to move their belongings in during finals week last semester.

Each floor’s bathrooms were completely refigured to have a bathroom with a new vanity and a separate shower room.

The shower stalls have individual drains and a shelving area.

Two individual bathrooms with a full bath are also on each floor except for the 10th floor, which only has one because it is smaller.

“If you really want privacy, you can have it,” Kuster said.

The space was designated for individual bathrooms because it couldn’t be used for bedroom space due to lack of windows.

The bathtubs were an advantage because some students may need to soak for arthritis and other health issues, Kuster said.

The kitchens on each floor were built smaller, giving extra space for bedrooms and preventing them from getting cluttered.

“I liked Poland because there was more life going on there – it had a more social setting,” Hodgenville freshman Autumn Best said. “Everybody seems far away here.”

Best said parking is a problem, even though she can use the new parking lot by Mass Media and Technology Hall.

“People off campus are coming to use the media lab,” she said. “They should make the faculty parking lot across the street from the media building for students.”

Campus police Capt. Mike Wallace said there are about 56 parking spots in the Minton lot, and 20 parking spots were lost at Poland because of the construction.

Louisville freshman Ashley Hinkle said she enjoys the new location, but misses the trash chute and hooks inside her closet.

“Poland kind of spoiled us about that,” she said.

Kuster said the trash chute was eliminated because it is a fire hazard, and plans are already in place to remove the trash chute in Pearce-Ford Tower over the summer.

Hinkle said she likes the bunkable furniture, personal bathrooms and overall newness of the dorm.

Don Stoneburg, project manager for the Student Life Foundation, said demolition work began in mid-December at Poland.

Construction is on schedule as walls are currently being taken out, Stoneburg said.

The $3 million project will include the reconfiguration of the bathrooms, new floors and new ceilings.

Stoneburg said the upgrades will model those in Bemis Lawrence, Barnes-Campbell and Minton halls.

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and campus services, said Melissa “Katie” Autry’s dorm room is still under the supervision of the prosecuting attorney in her murder case. That room has been closed since early May.

“We’re hopeful that they’ll release it during the construction,” Tice said.

Renovations are scheduled to be completed by June 21 with final completion set for July 5.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]