The Past is Never Far Behind

The Past is Never Far Behind

Courtesy of the Denison University Archives

It may technically be a new building, but when the Bryant Arts Center opened its doors to fine arts students in the fall, there were plenty of reminders of its past life as Cleveland Hall within the walls–the old paint-splattered studio floor became a mural in the main lobby, fireplaces were preserved, and the original brick walls were exposed in areas throughout the building. The decision to blend history with contemporary architecture was made partly with sustainability in mind–renovating an old building and recycling its materials, after all, is an environmentally friendly approach to meeting the needs of 21st century students. But the decision to renovate also made it possible to preserve some of Cleveland Hall’s history.

As students take advantage of the new technology and space in the Bryant Arts Center–including revamped studios for printmaking, painting, ceramics, and drawing as well as dark rooms, galleries, a digital media lab, and an atrium–we thought we’d look back at the building’s past lives.

Cleveland Hall first opened in 1904 to serve as the college’s athletic facility. It included a gym, a swimming pool, locker rooms, and staff offices.

During the 1940s, the building still hosted athletic endeavors, but also housed a student union, complete with a diner and soda fountain.

By 1970, the jocks had gone over the hill to Livingston Gym, and Cleveland Hall became the home to fine arts programs. For more on its history and new life as the Bryant Arts Center, visit Photos courtesy of the Denison University Archives

Published November 2010