DAVENPORT -- St. Ambrose University's Ambrose Hall is getting a makeover, but the new look is reminiscent of an old one -- a very old one.
The university is repairing and renovating the building's exterior to restore its appearance to something similar to what it was in the late 19th century, Mike Poster, St. Ambrose vice president for finance, said.
The more than $5 million project includes repairing the brick exterior, restoration of decorations and use of materials similar to those from the original construction.
"There's just a lot of those little fine details that have been removed," Mr. Poster said.
Among the returns to the original will be restoration of a balcony and replacing asphalt on the roof with slate tiles, he said.
The building's tower also is being renovated with decorations similar to the original, Mr. Poster said, adding that the university is using old pictures to help with the work. Remnants of the original slate tiles were found, so planners know what type and color to use in the renovation, he said.
Some of the changes will be a blend of the old and modern, Mr. Poster said. Wood window exteriors are being replaced with aluminum versions that will be easier to repair and lessen energy costs but that have been designed to look like the originals.
In other cases, the project is about what could have been, he said.
The tower has space for a clock, but a search of records shows no evidence one ever was installed. However, the university is going to install one anyway, and has found a clock with an appearance that should fit the look of the period, Mr. Poster said.
The exterior work is part of a larger plan for Ambrose Hall. Once exterior work is complete, the interior will be upgraded as funds become available, he said. The work is part of the university's master capital plan, which was revised a couple of years ago.
The money for the project is coming from operations funds, Mr. Poster said. The exterior work, begun in the spring, is expected to be complete by December.
The 97,000-square-foot Ambrose Hall has four stories and contains a mix of classrooms and administration, support and faculty offices.
Besides being the first, it was the only building on campus until the early 20th century. The university was established in 1882.